By Graham Hill
DEAN Smith says the ‘loan-liness’ of a football manager will be put to the test next week.
Smith is grateful to see his injury problems easing up with players such as Henri Lansbury and Axel Tuanzebe fit to be in contention for the home clash with Blackburn Rovers.
But defender Tuanzebe is one of six loan signings – and only five can be named in the squad on a matchday.
Tuanzebe (Manchester United), Kortney Hause (Wolves), Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Tom Carroll (Swansea), Tyrone Mings (Bournemouth) and Anwar El-Ghazi (Lille) are Villa’s loan stars.
But Smith is going to have to disappoint some of them over the next few weeks as Villa’s play-off bid heats up.
The Villa boss told the club’s official website: “Axel gives me not only a selection headache, but a loan headache.
“You’re only allowed five in the matchday 18.
“One will have to miss out – I have Axel, Carroll, Hause, Mings, Abraham and Anwar. That’s a decision I’ve got to make.”
Smith has had to deal with a Villa Park casualty list in recent months.
But he could have plenty of players to choose from as the season nears what promises to be a thrilling conclusion.
Smith added: “Lansbury and Tuanzebe have trained fully with us for the last week now.
“They’ll have had a good two weeks in training before the Blackburn Rovers game comes around.
“It’s great to have Axel back. He’s a very talented player – comfortable on the ball, athletic.
“With him and James Chester out it was a big loss for us with the lack of centre-backs we had at the club.
“James has had a course of injections. He’s now doing light work on the bike and in the gym.
“Tommy Elphick has got the protective boot off and is walking around a little bit now. He should be back soon. We’ve got a few coming back now.”