Team News: Smith changes three

By Graham Hill

ASTON Villa boss Dean Smith has made three changes for today’s clash at Leeds United.

Even though the top two are virtually decided – with Norwich promoted and Sheffield United all but up due to their superior goal difference – Smith clearly wants to keep Villa’s momentum going as he searches for an 11th straight League win.

EFL rules prevent Smith from making wholesale changes but the temptation must have been there to rest McGinn who stands to be banned for three games if he picks up another two yellow cards in the remaining fixtures of the regular season.

Axel Tuanzebe is back in the line up after receiving from an ankle injury suffered at Bolton.

Conor Hourihane returns with Glenn Whelan on the bench.

And Andre Green earns a recall in place of Albert Adomah. Tammy Abraham was ruled out for the game earlier this week with a shoulder injury.

The game was chosen for live TV coverage with Leeds predicted to still be in the running for a two two place.

But successive defeats by Wigan and Brentford means they are joining Villa in the play-offs.

It will be interesting to see how that affects today’s game.

Villa’s top six place is very much seen as a bonus in a season that was in danger of drifting two months ago.

Leeds topped the table at Christmas after beating Villa – yet they will not be going up automatically.

That is a huge blow for Marcelo Bielsa’s side who will see the play-offs as a consolation – not an achievement.

Villa are on the up, Leeds are on a downer. Dean Smith’s side do not need to win this game, but it would keep the play-off bandwagon rolling – and it would deliver a psychological blow to Leeds.


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