With Aston Villa’s walking wounded seeming to grow week-to-week, Villa Head Coach at least had some good news as he announced that Neil Taylor and Henri Lansbury had been training all week and were likely to play against Swansea City in the FA Cup.
While Henri Lansbury hasn’t really featured this season anyway, Taylor’s return to fitness after going off injured at the Hawthorns in the 2-2 draw with West Brom is a plus.
“He gave us a great balance,” said Smith, announcing the left-back’s return. “The back four was very stable [with him].”
Smith also repeated the observation made by some of the Villa supporter base during the Christmas period, that being of Villa playing games with essentially three right-backs in the back four.
With Tommy Elphick and Neil Taylor back in the fold, at least Villa can avoid that now, although not doubt the key focus of the January transfer window will be adding a bit more depth to the defensive department.
Also available for selection is Villa’s new keeper Lovre Kalinic. His timely arrival more than makes up for Orjan Nyland’s being out until the end of the season.
Smith though was uncommitted to whether the Croatian number one would definitely be starting against the Swans.
“He’s available for selection this weekend,” said Smith, seemingly keeping the door open for Jed Steer.
If MOMS was Villa boss, we’d be starting Kalinic and a full-strength back line – probably Bree, Chester, Elphick & Taylor – to give them a game to get to know each other before the upcoming league games.
In terms of the current major absentees from the Villa ranks, Jack Grealish has had his protective boot removed from his foot, but Smith didn’t mention any additional details regarding the injury.
It seems he’s still set to miss this month’s Villa action.