Aston Villa boss Dean Smith says the intensity he has seen from his players in training suggests they will be ready to hit the ground running. After winning promotion through last term’s Championship play-offs, the Villans have made a so-so start to their first season back in the Premier League, beating Everton but losing to Tottenham, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.
Smith is still undoubtedly looking for his best XI following a busy summer in which he signed 12 players. However, rather than try and bed them in, the boss has shown no qualms in introducing them immediately and there are signs that some decent combinations are getting themselves together despite individual errors often costing them.
Monday sees Villa welcome West Ham to the Second City, with the Hammers in decent form following wins over Watford and Norwich.
The international break arguably came at the wrong time for Manuel Pellegrini’s men and Villa will be looking to take advantage of any sluggishness from the visitors, who have won just once in B6 since 2006.
Smith admits he was concerned that with some of his players jetting off with their country’s and some others staying put, there may be a lack of intensity upon the resumption of training.
However, the boss says it has been an entirely different scenario and he has picked up on a real will to improve on their early-season issues from the entire squad. “There’s a burning desire from them to right the wrongs. I can sense that,” he told the club website. “I’ve given them a few days off over the last few weeks during the international break, while some have been away with their countries. “You always wonder what the quality and intensity of sessions is going to be like when players are away, but it’s been very, very good.”