Wesley taking it slow as he steps up his Aston Villa comeback

Dean Smith will exercise patience with Wesley after the Villa striker returned to full training 14 months on from a serious knee injury.

Aston Villa's Wesley (left)
Aston Villa's Wesley (left)

The £21million forward took part in contact sessions for the first time on Monday as he targets a comeback for the club’s Premier League run-in.

Wesley has not played since suffering injury during a 2-1 win at Burnley on January 1 last year.

Smith admitted his return to full sessions had lifted team-mates who have witnessed his arduous struggle back to fitness.

But the boss is understandably wary of pushing the 24-year-old too far, too soon.

He said: “It has been a long, hard road back for Wes and we expected that such was the extent of the injury.

“He had his first small-sided game on Monday and we just have to slowly build that up for him. But it was good to see for everyone that he was involved.

“There will be some days he will get frustrated because he is not quite at the levels he wants to be.

“But there will be days he will be flying and feeling really good. As coaches and staff we just have to be patient and work hard with him.”

Wesley became Villa’s then record signing when he joined from Club Brugge in the summer of 2019 following their promotion back to the Premier League.

He netted five goals in 21 top-flight appearances before suffering his injury.

Villa have also been boosted by highly-rated teenage forward Jaden Philogene-Bidace signing a new deal with the club.

The 19-year-old is yet to make a first-team appearance but is recognised as one of the most exciting young attackers in the academy and had been attracting interest from clubs in both England and Europe, including Arsenal.

With his previous deal due to expire in the summer, Villa pushed hard to convince him to stay,

“It is fantastic to see Jaden commit to a new long-term contract,” said Villa academy boss Mark Harrison.

“He has had a really good last six months with some excellent performances in the U23s, which has led to him training with the first team on a regular basis and has recently seen him travel with them to games.

“We are very excited to see how Jaden develops over the next few years.”

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