Dean Smith claims Wolves' success is inspiration to Aston Villa as they prepare to face Midlands rivals

Dean Smith claims Wolves’ recent success acts as inspiration to Villa as they prepare to face their rivals on Saturday.

Dean Smith.
Dean Smith.

Boss Smith is eager for Villa to match Midlands counterparts Wolves and Leicester City by playing in Europe and challenging for major honours in the years ahead.

The Molineux men reached the quarter-finals of last season’s Europa League under Nuno Espirito Santo, an achievement Villa midfielder John McGinn has previously admitted was the cause of envy.

Smith said: “We have a proud history as a club but next year will be 25 years since we last won a major trophy.

“We went close last year against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup and unfortunately we cannot count the play-off trophy as a major trophy.

“Our job now is to try to benefit from the owners’ vision of the club, which is to go and compete for the highest honours.

“We want to try and mirror what Leicester City did in winning the title and Wolves getting into Europe. Those are our ambitions and our aims.”

Wolves and Villa are now backed by two of the wealthiest ownership groups in English football, both of whom have made no secret of their lofty long-term ambitions. Yet it is Wolves who have enjoyed the bigger success of late and on Saturday they will target a fourth straight home win over their neighbours.

“Between supporters there will always be that rivalry,” continued Smith. “Villa supporters will work with Wolves supporters and know people. You will always have that.

“But I certainly believe there is a respect between both clubs. What Wolves have done since getting promoted has been fantastic and something everyone can admire.

“We will try to aspire to what they have done over the last couple of seasons. The respect is there.”

Villa will again be without Ross Barkley as the on-loan Chelsea midfielder continues his recovery a hamstring injury.

“He’s back running now but this game will come too soon for him,” said Smith. “We will look at is again next week for either Thursday (against Burnley) or the Sunday (against Albion).

“What we don’t want to be is without him for an extended period so we won’t rush it.”

Striker Keinan Davis and defender Bjorn Engels have both returned to training, but are lacking match-fitness and unlikely to feature.

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