By Graham Hill
VILLA boss Dean Smith is a clear fan of Nottingham Forest forward Joe Lolley.
But can he succeed with a bid to sign him this summer?
Former boss Martin O’Neill could already have thrown a spanner in the works as far as that is concerned.
Villa fan Lolley starred against his boyhood club earlier this season when he had a hand in all of Forest’s goals in the dramatic 5-5 draw.
That convinced Smith that Lolley was worth taking to Villa where he would surely be a Holte End favourite.
But Aitor Karanka was manager of Forest then – but he was replaced by O’Neill in January.
And the Irishman quickly identified Lolley as a key man – and handed him a new City Ground contract.
O’Neill clearly needed no persuading to agree a new deal for the former Kidderminster Harriers man.
The Forest boss told the club’s official website: “I’m delighted for a start and I think this was something the club was doing before I arrived but it is something, certainly, I would have verified.
“I think he’s a really exciting player and he has told me about the injuries he had at Huddersfield which prevented him from reaching his peak.
“But now he has been pain free for some considerable time, he has played a number of consecutive matches for us and he is a really exciting talent.
“It’s really exciting and it is about getting him signed first of all, which means he is enjoying playing for the football club which is really important.
“And it is important for us as well, to know that he wants to play, he wants to improve and I think if he improves, he will improve us.
“He’s a match-winner and our job, as a team, is to get him involved in football matches here and not spend 20 minutes out of the game.
“He may go past a couple of players, slip somebody through and he is the one at the minute. He is a proper player and he wants to do well; he has a really good attitude about it.”
That means Villa would have to come up with big money to tempt Forest into thinking about doing a deal for Lolley