Smith faces big summer decisions

COMMENT, By Graham Hill

WHATEVER happens this summer, Dean Smith has a major restructuring job on his hands.

The Villa manager may have one eye on the play-offs, but another on a summer of new faces.

Up front there will need to be changes with Tammy Abraham likely to return to Chelsea.

Jack Grealish’s future remains in the balance while Villa wait to see what division they will be playing in next season.

Albert Adomah’s Villa days seem to be numbered while Glenn Whelan faces a wait to see if he will be offered another deal after his recent revival in form at both club and international level.

Premier League teams are clearly eyeing John McGinn too but Smith will not be looking to lose the influential Scot for now.

With Abraham gone, expect a move for at least one striker and Brentford’s Neal Maupay seems to be the obvious choice as Smith managed him at Griffin Park and the player has indicated a move could be on the cards.

But he may have his sights set on the Premier League so a lot of things have to be decided before then.

Already a replacement for Grealish must be high on Smith’s agenda – and that could be a tough ask.

Even if McGinn does take on those midfield responsibilities – which he has shared well with Grealish in recent weeks – Smith will need some extra inventiveness from the centre of the park.

However, Conor Hourihane now appears to be maturing into the player we thought he could be.

The biggest conundrum comes at the back. Despite the calls for Tyrone Mings’ loan deal to be made permanent, this will not happen unless Villa are promoted through the play-offs.

Mings has shown Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe that he is winning his battle with the injury problems that have dogged his career so far and is likely to head back to the south coast and could be snapped up by another club with Southampton interested.

But club captain James Chester should be in a position to step up and replace Mings if that happens, but much depends on Axel Tuanzebe’s future.

Manchester United are prepared to loan him out next season – and Villa would be a likely destination.

But it was ex-boss Steve Bruce who signed the 21-year-old for two loan spells at Villa – so expect a request to take Tuanzebe to Sheffield Wednesday this summer.

An injury lay-off means he has played more games for Bruce than Smith.

But another of Smith’s Brentford players Yoann Barbet, could be another option.

Tommy Elphick will hope to be offered a new deal as well which Kortney Hause’s loan move from Wolves should be made permanent no matter where Villa are playing in August.

One name to emerge as a possible transfer target is Stoke City full-back Moritz Bauer, 27, who could be part of a clearout by new Potters boss Nathan Jones this summer.

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