Dean Smith urges Aston Villa to maintain focus as they target "special" season

Dean Smith has urged Villa to maintain their focus after admitting his team can achieve “something special” this season.

Bertrand Traore celebrates his goal against Newcastle.
Bertrand Traore celebrates his goal against Newcastle.

Saturday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle saw Villa climb up to eighth in the Premier League table with games in hand on most of those teams above.

Smith’s team are now being tipped to make a sustained push for European football but while the boss is eager to play down expectations, he believes the campaign could yield big rewards if players are able to keep their current standards.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the effort and the team spirit we have got. If you have the attitudes of the young men we have got then we can do something special.

“But we have to keep working hard and keep taking it game by game.”

Villa are set to strengthen further with the signing of Marseille midfielder Morgan Sanson. The clubs have agreed a fee of £14million, rising to £15.5m with add-ons for the 26-year-old, who is now awaiting a visa ahead of travelling to the Midlands to complete the move.

Saturday’s win over Newcastle came courtesy of first-half goals from Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore. Watkins broke his own nine-match goal drought when he opened the scoring in the 13th minute.

He said: “The ball popped off the defender’s shin and I knew I was going to score. I was delighted after a bit of a drought. I have been a bit unlucky but have kept getting in there so I was pleased.

“I have had a few disallowed but you just have to keep going and getting in the box. Hopefully now I can pick up, take some confidence and go on to the next game.

“I’m a firm believer if you work hard you get your rewards. I will just keep getting in the box.”

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