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Dean Smith: We're still looking to add – there remains players that we'd like

Injury report: El Ghazi, Konsa, Steer Dean Smith: Why Tom Heaton is so important for us
Dean Smith: We're still looking to add – there remains players that we'd like

Dean Smith says Aston Villa are 'still looking' and that there are 'players we'd still like' ahead of Thursday's transfer window deadline.

The club have brought in 12 names already this summer in preparation for a Premier League return, which begins at Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday evening.

Jota, Wesley, Matt Targett, Ezri Konsa, Bjorn Engels, Douglas Luiz, Trezeguet, Marvelous Nakamba and Tom Heaton have all been recruited, while Anwar El Ghazi, Kortney Hause and Tyrone Mings have returned following successful loan spells in the second half of last season.

French right-back Frederic Guilbert has also linked up with squad for the first time following his January signing.

Now, with three days to go, it's fully possible that number could still rise, according to Smith.

He said: "We're still looking – we're always open. We've got some players that we'd still like.

"But everything has to align for that to happen.

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"I'm happy with the squad at the moment. But yes, there's still some areas where we feel we can strengthen.

"There's a competitive edge in training at the moment. The competition for places is there in all positions, which is what you want as a coach.

"We've come through pre-season relatively injury free. Some will still need more time to integrate. But we're in good shape."

On the large-scale reshuffle of the playing squad, Smith stressed it's something that was always going to happen – whether our Wembley fortunes went for or against us last May.

He's pleased with the work done so far, having worked directly with five signings – Jota, Konsa, El Ghazi, Hause and Mings – and previously scouted others like centre-back Engels.

The relationships between players are also instilled already. Konsa knows Jack Grealish, Trezeguet has played down the right side with Ahmed Elmohamady at international level and Engels, Wesley and Marvelous have all crossed paths at Brugge. The list of combinations goes on.

He added: "We knew that whether we were a Premier League team or a Championship team that we'd need to recruit a lot of players.

"We released nine, six went back to their loan clubs. Fortunately we've managed to get our business done very early.

"The recruitment policy has been very good – we've got a lot of players that I know and have worked with before. There's connections between new players and other players at the club, too.

"The integration has been seamless. It's great to get them in. We've been preparing them ever since for the first test at Tottenham Hotspur this weekend."

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Dan Connor
By @danconnor 5th August 2019