'Looking hard for them' - What Dean Smith said about Sheffield United and Chris Wilder ahead of Aston Villa clash
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith isn't willing to underestimate Sheffield United when his side travel to Bramall Lane tomorrow evening.
United go into the clash bottom of the table and seemingly doomed to relegation, after falling 15 points behind fourth-bottom Newcastle United with just 12 games left to play.
The first of that dozen comes at home to Villa tomorrow, and Smith spoke about the struggles his opposite number Chris Wilder has faced this season.
"They’re still fighting and they won’t believe they’re down yet, but it’s looking hard for them," Smith said.
"They’ve had some key players out. Dean Henderson, the goalkeeper, left, Jack O’Connell’s been out most of the season, so they’ve lost some key players at key times.
“We’ve been through that ourselves last year, losing John McGinn, Wesley and Tom Heaton. It’s very difficult to be really good competitors in this league when you’ve lost key players.
“I’ve known Chris for a long time and I don’t doubt their professionalism and pride in every game that they play. Knowing Chris as I do, they will be ready for every game.”
Smith revealed earlier today that captain Jack Grealish won't travel to Sheffield after failing to recover from a leg injury in time, while former Blades target Matty Cash has returned to training after a hamstring problem.
“Matty Cash did some running yesterday and he was desperate to get involved in the ball work," Smith said.
"The medical staff wouldn’t allow him to.
“After a hamstring injury you have to tick a lot of boxes first. It was good to see him out there."