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Dean Smith defends Wesley but admits Aston Villa striker needs to score more goals

By Matt Maher | Aston Villa | Published:

Dean Smith has defended Wesley but admitted Villa’s record £22million buy needs to start finding the net more regularly.

Wesley battles with Kurt Zouma during Villa's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old striker has failed to score in the club’s last seven Premier League matches, a run which dates back to October 5.

Smith insists Wesley, who joined from Club Brugge last summer, retains the backing of his team-mates and the boss believes much of the criticism aimed at the Brazilian has been unfair.

But while happy with his all-round game, Smith is keen to see his goal return improve.

“We’re quite happy with his performances, he’s had some really good games. What we’re looking for is a more consistent level,” said the boss.

“Aerially in the week at Chelsea he won 12 out of 15 duels. What he’s not doing is getting on the end of crosses. But his all round game is OK.

“There’s no complaints in the dressing room or coaching room, the only thing to add is more goals.

“I envisaged him playing most of the games (when he joined), I’d hoped he’d score more goals than he’s got. But he is contributing to the team.”

Wesley, who has not scored since netting a brace in a 5-1 win at Norwich, has started all 15 of Villa's Premier League matches. Villa are likely to be in the market for a forward next month, though Smith yesterday appeared to rule out bringing in a direct competitor.

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"If you bring someone else in, he’s going to want to play. You don't bring in a player for 20-odd million and not play him," he said.

“Wesley’s a popular figure, and came here with a lot of potential and promise and he’s stilll trying to fulfil that potential.

“Villa supporters want to see honest, hard working players, and he’s one of those.

“He’s likeable in the dressing room, unfortunately when you get a big price tag on your shoulders, people expect you to score a lot of goals.

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“We won’t judge him too early. I was getting these questions asked after five or six games, then he scored twice against Norwich.

“All of a sudden he’s a snip at £22m, then he goes through a spell of not scoring and suddenly he should be worth £2million. You can’t win."

Smith added: “I go into the manager’s rooms after games, at Man U they’re saying ‘he’s a handful’, Frank Lampard said the same at Chelsea.

“Opposition managers know, the likes of Lindelof, Zouma, Maguire and Christiansen are having tough games.

“We always want more but the players trust him, that’s the most important things.”

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher

Chief sports writer for the Express & Star.

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