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Press Conference Hot Topics: Smith on resting players, Norwich, McGinn chances and El Ghazi overturn

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Press Conference Hot Topics: Smith on resting players, Norwich, McGinn chances and El Ghazi overturn

Dean Smith spoke to the media on Friday afternoon ahead of Sunday's regular season finale against Norwich City.

See below his transcript in full.


On the approach to the Norwich game with fourth place out of reach...

That much happened at Elland Road last weekend that at the time I thought we could still get fourth! That's how wrong my maths were.

There's three games to go, at least. We're hoping it'll be four.

Norwich are well promoted and they need to come and take the title. It's our job to put up a fight and continue our momentum.

I still believe win, lose or draw on Sunday we'll have that momentum, but it's not in our nature to not be up for a match. We will be.

On giving other players opportunities...

There's always an opportunity when I change the team for players to come in and impress.

It's down to them to take it. It's not about me looking to please them. It's about them looking to please me and my coaching staff.

We will change a few – John McGinn being one of them.

But we're also aware of the rules in place by the EFL. With that in mind, we'll pick a team we feel can go and beat Norwich.

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On the season extension...

I hadn't booked any holidays and my daughter is doing her GCSE's this summer, so we didn't have a lot planned!

I'd obviously love to be where Norwich and Sheffield United are. Full congratulations to them for the work they've done this season.

But we've still got an opportunity to be promoted and we're looking forward to it.

On the intensity of Sunday's game...

Norwich still need a point so the intensity can't be lost on their part or ours.

Sheffield United have a better goal difference, so if we can beat Norwich it makes things interesting.

We've got a good record at Villa Park against them and we've got back-to-back full houses coming up. We want it rocking for both.

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On approaching three months unbeaten...

We're looking to continue that. We also know we're playing against the champions elect, so to speak.

They've done really well and surprised a few this season.

On admiration for Norwich's approach...

They haven't surprised me, in terms of how well they've done.

I coached against them last year with Brentford and always thought they had great potential with some of the players they had there.

The signings they've made have strengthened them further. I'm a big fan of the way they've done it.

They haven't spent loads to get there and the players have been recruited based on the style they want to play.

It's been a serious team effort.

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On John McGinn's double scoop at the club awards dinner...

He's well worthy of them. I think a lot of us expected him to win at least one of those.

I always say the Players' Player accolade is the one that really means a lot, because it's voted for by your peers who you train with everyday.

It's a tremendous achievement in his first full season in English football.

I've said before, he's a joy to coach and manage. You always know what you're going to get.

If he dips below a 7/10, you're usually very surprised.

I've heard the rumours about him running marathons as a warm-up for games as well!

On Goal of the Season going to Jack Grealish (Rotherham)...

Would it have been my pick? No, it wouldn't...

But it was voted for by our supporters and was a very good goal.

For me, I know Jack went for Hutton's against Birmingham City, but I'd go for McGinn's volley against Sheffield Wednesday.

The technique was tremendous.

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On Anwar El Ghazi's rescinded red card...

I wasn't fully surprised!

It's great that the panel produced the expected outcome.

He's an important player for us and the sad part was we missed him for the last 20 minutes at Leeds.

On Tammy Abraham...

He's available. If I needed him Sunday I could use him.

I don't think I will, though. It's better for him that he gets some more training minutes and is ready for the first Play-Off game.

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On possible defensive changes...

Everyone's available.

James Chester hasn't trained as often as the likes of Alan Hutton and Tommy Elphick, so would probably be a slight risk.

Kortney Hause has trained and has hopefully come through his injury. He could be available for selection and is one who needs minutes ahead of the Play-Offs.

I'll sit down the coaching staff later and run a few things by them. But I've got a team in mind that I want to play.

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Dan Connor
By @danconnor 3rd May 2019