Ahead of Saturday’s game against Southampton, Dean Smith spoke to the media at his pre-match press conference.
The Villa manager discussed the Carabao Cup semi-final draw, the performance of his strikers, the importance of winning games at Villa Park and the upcoming January transfer window.
On Carabao Cup opponents…
Whoever we got, it was going to be a tough game with both Manchester clubs and Leicester City – teams that are doing really well at the moment.
It’s a place where this football club belongs – in the last four of a major competition. We’ve got a great history in this competition, winning it five times, and we’ve got a great opportunity now.
It’s a tough one going to Leicester, but it would have been tough whoever we’d have played.
On team news…
Jed Steer’s just come out of the boot, Keinan Davis is back running – probably not 100% yet but he should be soon – and Tyrone Mings is pain-free and running as well, but only at 50%.
It’s good news on those fronts that they’re coming back to fitness.
James Chester trained today as well and he’s in a good place.
Kodija went and scored two goals on Tuesday and as a striker, that’s all you can do. I want competition in all positions.
We’ve got Wesley, who came on and scored after a barren spell before that. It was pleasing that both of my centre-forwards scored.
We all know that Wesley needed because he’s had some criticism because he hasn’t scored for so long.
There’s that added pressure with the price tag, but I think the players’ reaction to his goal showed just how important he is to all of us.
On home advantage…
We’ve come through a tough fixture list and now we’re coming up against teams that are in and around us.
I said to the players at the start of the season that Villa Park is massive for us, the results and the performances that we get there.
Our supporters have been fantastic and with the exception of Leicester City, nobody has had an easy ride at Villa Park.
To come out of the Sheffield United game knowing you’ve got Liverpool, Southampton and Norwich at home gives everybody confidence.
If we win tomorrow, the world will look a different place.
On festive fixtures…
The table can look very different [after Christmas period], but it’s up to us to perform and get the fans on our side and cheering for us because they’ve been our 12th man.
Southampton have won a few games on the spin and that’s taken them up to level on points with us before they lost the last couple of games.
They’ve had a rollercoaster ride, much like ourselves.
On January transfer window…
We’re looking at targets all the time. I have regular meetings with Christian Purslow and Suso, the Sporting Director, and we’ve got a very healthy list of players who are possibilities.
There may possibly be outs – I don’t know. I’m not looking for any players to go at all and we’re not under any pressure to sell, contrary to popular belief.
We also haven’t got any clauses in contracts that people can buy for a certain price. We’ve got two very wealthy owners who want to move this club forward, and to do that you keep your best players and add to that.