Dean Smith met the media at Bodymoor Heath on Tuesday afternoon ahead of taking his side to Leicester City for the first leg of their Carabao Cup Semi-Final.
The Aston Villa boss discussed the signing of Danny Drinkwater, signings to come, preparing his team for a cup semi-final and combatting Leicester’s quality.
Here is what Smith had to say…
On Danny Drinkwater…
We’re short in that area, with John McGinn, who’s been a major player for us, getting injured. It was a great opportunity to sign someone with the quality of Danny.
Everyone knows about him from his Premier League winning season at Leicester and his move to Chelsea probably hasn’t gone how he would have liked. From meeting him, I liked the hunger I saw in his eyes. He’s got a lot to go and prove now.
It hasn’t happened at Chelsea and we’re going to give him an opportunity where he can come and flourish. He looks hungry and I really like that. There’s a similarity to when we brought Tyrone Mings in on loan – he hadn’t played many games either.
He’s trained with us, he looks really good and I’m pleased to have him on board.
On signings to come…
I’ve got Suso, our Sporting Director, very busy at the moment. We’re obviously short in the forward area, everybody knows that, and it’s an area we’re looking to target as soon as possible.
The lack of numbers we have in forward positions makes that the priority.
We’ve got Orjan Nyland and Lovre Kalinic, both international players, and Matija Sarkic as well. We’ve got goalkeeping cover but it’s an area we’ll still look at.
On preparing for a semi-final…
The players are all ready. We don’t have a lot of choice with the numbers we have, but everyone is looking forward to the game.
Some of my best memories of watching this football club came in this competition – my dad taking me to the 1977 cup final. I know my history about this football club in this competition and I’m excited about leading them in the semi-final.
There’s a real good work ethic and a drive about the players that I want to continue. We’re all looking forward to two really good games against Leicester.
On combatting Leicester’s quality…
We’ve got to learn our lessons [from the Premier League defeat]. We were very open in our defending and they counter attacked very well.
It’s easy to forget that we had the best chance after 12 minutes and hit the crossbar. All in all, they were better than us at Villa Park and we’ve got to make sure we learn our lessons.
I prefer to play away first, but the key thing is making sure we’re still in the tie. We’ve got to strike the balance between being cautious and trying to win. If you sit back and defend against Leicester, they’ve got players who can hurt you.