Smith: ‘These players will be vital’

By Graham Hill

DEAN Smith admits he will have a few headaches when it comes to picking his team to face Derby at Wembley – but some positions select themselves.

And he says the players on the bench will be just as important as who starts the game.

Smith has virtually a full squad to choose from as Villa prepare for their second successive Championship Play-off Final in as many years.

And it will mean the Villa boss and his backroom team having to think long and hard about who makes the cut.

But while Smith says it is a good problem to have, those that are on the bench can still have a huge impact.

Mile Jedinak’s arrival as an extra-time substitute is an example as he provided an ice-cool penalty in the shoot-out at The Hawthorns last week.

Smith’s crucial choices appear to be between Conor Hourihane or Glenn Whelan in midfield – and Albert Adomah and Andre Green out wide.

But Smith told Villa’s official TV channel: “I enjoy making those decisions, I want as many options as I can have.

“I’ll pick the best team that I believe is going to win.

“There’s an awful lot of positions that can provide a headache just because of the players we’ve got available to us.

“Some selections are harder than others. But I’ve always said you have to play your way into the team by training hard, and play your way out of it if you’re not playing well.

“We’ll certainly look at the bench in that way and who we can put on there.”

“You saw in the semi final with Mile coming on in the 122nd minute that you have got a lot of things up your sleeve – there are four subs and impacts to be made.

And Smith revealed what his pre-match message to the players will be, he said: “Be a good team-mate.”

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