By Graham Hill
DEAN SMITH suddenly finds himself with a midfield dilemma for the Blues derby at St Andrew’s this Sunday.
From being without the likes of the injured Jack Grealish and the suspended John McGinn, Smith now has four players battling to make the starting line up for the Second City Derby.
Smith may have huge problems in defence with Tommy Elphick the latest player to be ruled out – it is a six week lay-off for the centre half after he was injured against Derby on Saturday.
But the Villa boss has an embarrassment of riches in midfielder with Smith’s play-off hopes lifted by last weekend’s 4-0 hammering of Derby County.
So, what should he do?
The return of a raring-to-go McGinn could also have the same effect as Grealish had on the team against the Rams.
It would be difficult to change things from last Saturday. Unless Smith has a particular set up in mind of course.
And while it will be tempting for the Villa boss to tell last weekend’s team to ‘go again’, it is worth remembering that Blues are unlikely to play as badly as injury hit Derby did.
The Rams were suffering horrendous problems with illness and injury. And boss Frank Lampard had to make six changes to his side.
Blues, despite last week’s defeat at Hull, are a more settled outfit and still have an eye on the top six despite the threat of an EFL points deduction hanging over them.
If Smith wanted to freshen it up again, he could bring back McGinn – but then who misses out?
Grealish? No way. He is set to captain the side at St Andrew’s. Glenn Whelan? Are you kidding? He was a contender for man of the match against Derby and has impressed in recent weeks, Conor Hourihane? Surely not.
He also impressed against Derby, scored twice and admitted the return of Grealish freed him up to play his normal game.
It’s a nice problem for Smith to have, but one he must get right with Villa unable to afford any more dropped points if they are to make the play-offs.