Smith: This bond can take us up

By Graham Hill

VILLA boss Dean Smith believes there is a solid connection with the club’s supporters as they prepare for their bid to return to the Premier League.

Smith’s side face Derby at Wembley in the Championship Play-off final on Monday knowing he is being backed by the Villa faithful.

He believes the players recognise that and how important it will be to have that level of support at Wembley – after seeing it for themselves this season during the team’s play-off charge.

Smith knows there is talks of a new unity at the club – but he says that does not come easy.

The Villa boss said: “The fact that over the last 10 home games, they’ve had six or seven sell outs, just shows we’ve caught the imagination of the supporters and they’re enjoying what they’re seeing.

“They’re feeling entertained but they’re also feeling a connection with the players.

“It helps that Jack Grealish has come back, we’ve made him captain and there’s a connection there.

“I’m from the area as well which helps, but the performances levels and how the players have been playing for their shirts is what’s held that connection.”

Smith says there is a calm feeling within the camp even though there is so much riding on the result at Wembley.

He added: “We’re looking forward to it. We’ve had some rest days but some good training days as well. We’ve had a bit of time to kill before the final, but some good preparation time as well.”

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