Dean Smith met the media at Bodymoor Heath on Thursday afternoon ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Aston Villa boss previewed the game against Jose Mourinho’s men and addressed other key topics in the build-up to the match.
Here’s what he had to say…
On winter break…
Since the Bournemouth game we’ve had a winter break – the first time we’ve seen that in England. I’ve certainly seen a positive side of it.
I think my players and my staff all needed that break and they all got five or six days off.
Some of those who were coming back from injury had their own individual work to maintain their fitness, but it was a nice chance to give everyone time to clear their heads.
On Borja Baston…
Since he’s come in, he’s trained really well with the group and he’s settled in straight away.
He knew a couple of the players anyway – Pepe Reina and Jota. I’ve been really pleased with how the whole team’s been training.
It’s almost like we needed that break to go and reflect, review and recharge the batteries. Training’s been really good since we got back and hopefully that’s a good sign for the run-in.
It’s going to be a different team than we played against on the first day of the season because they’ve got a new head coach.
Obviously Jose’s in there now and he’ll have different ideas to Mauricio Pochettino. They’re without Harry Kane, which is a big loss, but they’ve got an awful lot of quality within that team.
Bergwijn, Son, Moura and Dele Alli, who’s scoring goals now. They’ve got enough of a threat. They were Champions League finalists last season and they’ve been regular top four finishers, but we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves and that’s the most important thing.
On remaining fixtures…
I think they look like great fixtures. You’ve got two outstanding teams in Liverpool and Manchester City, and Leicester City are the third best team at the moment.
You can have a great game against anybody else. There are points to go and play for, points to fight for and we’re in a position where it’s in our own hands.
There’s plenty of games that we can go and win, and that has to start on Sunday.