Dean Spurred on by Villa opener

By Graham Hill

DEAN Smith reckons the opening fixture of the new season holds some ‘trepidation’ for Villa.

But the Villa boss says the prospect of facing the Champions League finalists at their new stadium is ‘mouth watering’.

Villa go to Spurs on the opening weekend after regaining their Premier League status when they won the Championship Play-off Final against Derby.

Smith told the club’s official TV channel: “We’re looking forwards to whatever is going to be thrown at us and we have to prepare to be ready.

“Our fixtures against the top six seem to be spread out.

“We have a number of players who’ve worked hard to get this far and for some of them it’ll be their Premier League bow.”

The clash at Spurs gives skipper Jack Grealish the chance to show Mauricio Pochettino what he missed out on.

Grealish was all set to move to Tottenham in a cut price deal with Villa in financial trouble after failing to win promotion.

But new owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris refused to sell and Grealish stayed put.

Smith added: “It’s a mouth-watering game, there’s excitement and also a bit of trepidation as they’re last season’s Champions League finalists.

“But it’s to be expected, we’ve given ourselves the chance to play in these games next season.

“We have to be as competitive as we can.

“We’ve got a lot of work done, and there’s more to do. But the new fixtures just bring imagination to reality. None more so that, first up, going to a ground I’ve never been to and nor will any of the players. But there are no small clubs in the Premier League now.”


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