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Aston Villa boss Dean Smith wants squad to step up to help club avoid relegation

Second-bottom Villa travel to Leicester on Monday on the back of three straight Premier League defeats

Dean Smith has asked his squad to help star men like Jack Grealish in Aston Villa's bid to avoid relegation. Reuters
Dean Smith has asked his squad to help star men like Jack Grealish in Aston Villa's bid to avoid relegation. Reuters

Manager Dean Smith has urged Aston Villa's squad to lift the pressure off their star men ahead of Monday's trip to Leicester City.

Villa travel to the King Power Stadium mired in the relegation zone and on the back of three straight Premier League defeats as well as a 2-1 loss to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.

Smith's side are second bottom on 25 points with 11 games remaining to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

The Villa boss insists it must be a squad effort if they are going to beat the drop.

He said: "Jack [Grealish] and Tyrone [Mings] have done really well, but the likes of Ally Samatta, who's been a really bright spark for us, can be really important from now until the end of the season.

"John McGinn is coming back and there will be a lot of pressure put on him because of his form before the injury.

"I thought Marvelous Nakamba was excellent against Manchester City, and if we've got these sort of players in form and performing well, we've got a good chance."

Villa's last victory came against Leicester in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final on January 28 while the Foxes have one win in six in all competitions.

Brendan Rodgers' side will go into the game third in the Premier League and Rodgers has earned admiration from Smith.

"They didn't get the result they wanted at Norwich [a 1-0 defeat] but their performances have been good enough," he added.

"They've had some inconsistent results but Brendan has done fantastically. We know we are going to have to be on our toes."

Rodgers hopes star striker Jamie Vardy could return from a calf injury for Monday's game.

Vardy, 33, is the league's joint top goal scorer this season with 17 goals alongside Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but he missed Leicester's last two matches.

"He's looked very good in training and he's still on track for Monday," Rodgers told reporters. "We're hoping that the measures we have in place behind the scenes will help him.

"He's a very important player for the club and has been for a number of years, particularly since I arrived here. It's very important he's available for us for this final part of the season."

However, left-back Ben Chilwell is a doubt after straining his hamstring in Wednesday's FA Cup fifth round win over Birmingham City.

Updated: March 9, 2020 08:53 AM

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