Dean: Villa Park will define season

By Graham Hill

DEAN Smith says he took his new signings to train at Villa Park this week to get them used to their new home.

Smith has brought in a string of signings this summer – and some of them will not have played in front of the Holte End.

So the Villa boss took them training there to show them what it was all about – albeit in front of an empty stadium.

Villa stage their first home game back in the Premier League on Saturday when they host Bournemouth in front of a big crowd.

And Smith is leaving nothing to chance when it comes to Villa’s new faces.

He told reporters: “I thought it was a great opportunity, there’s been 12 incomings and some of them won’t have been to Villa Park before.

“It was a chance to train on the pitch before the weekend.

“I don’t want any of them turning up at Villa Park and seeing it for the first time.

“We trained there on Tuesday and had a really good session.

“It just gave some of the new signings a welcome to Villa Park.”

Smith aims to make Villa Park the sort of fortress it was last season as the team staged their late Play-Off bid.

He added: “We had the place rocking last season.

“We went on such a good run and in the West Brom game in the Play-offs, the supporters certainly became our 12th man.

“We need to make sure Villa Park can become a fortress this season too. But we also know we have to perform even better than we did last season, because the quality of the opposition is better as well.

“Everybody’s looking forward to it, not just the new players but the ones who were here before as well. They’re excited to play at Villa Park in the Premier League.

“It’s something we’ve worked hard to achieve but we don’t want to make up the numbers. We’ve worked hard and I expect a reaction. We have to be right at it, that’s where our season will be defined.”

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