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Dean Smith on promotion, leading Villa out at Wembley and bond with Jack Grealish

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Dean Smith on promotion, leading Villa out at Wembley and bond with Jack Grealish

Dean Smith says the potential Aston Villa has in the Premier League is 'massive', as he prepares to lead the team into the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final.

A one-off showpiece with Derby County at Wembley Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday is all that stands between the club and a return to the top flight.

Speaking in his last interview before the titanic clash, our Head Coach has stressed the importance of what promotion could mean.

He said: "It's very important. We all know the prize at the end of it.

"It's the richest game in football so to speak. But it can go two ways.

"We'll either be a Premier League team or still in the Championship. It only takes a bounce of the ball, a mistake or a decision to go against you to determine that.

"But with the backing we have from our owners, the potential for this football club in the Premier League is massive. With the restrictions, it's more difficult in the EFL."

A well-documented, life-long Villa supporter, Smith was also quizzed on the prospect of him leading the team out at the national stadium – in front of 38,000 hopeful claret and blue supporters.

The Play-Off Final traditionally sees the Head Coach embark on the walk from the tunnel first.

He added: "I have thought about it, yes.

"I think the pride will be for my family more than myself. I'll just be wanting the game to start in all honesty.

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"I'll know in the first few minutes of the game whether they're performing and need words from me. I'm hopeful they won't."

Behind Smith in line will be none other than Jack Grealish – another man with Villa running deep through his veins.

The gaffer admits he'll take a certain sense of pride in seeing the 23-year old captain his club at Wembley, having formed a special bond with him over the last eight months.

On Grealish, he said: "I certainly will take pride.

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"You can have a perception of people before you go somewhere. I never really knew Jack, but I admired his football.

"I always thought I could help him, as a coach and as a mentor.

"We have a great understanding with each other and what we expect. I had no qualms in giving him the captaincy.

"He's relished the responsibility of it and he was ready for it. His performances have been tremendous.

"He's a popular lad around the place. You won't hear a bad word about him.

"He's never the first one in. He's not a morning person! But for sure he's the last one out."

Dan Connor
By @danconnor 26th May 2019