Targett again shone as Villa recorded their 13th clean sheet of the Premier League season in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Leeds.
Gareth Southgate was present at Elland Road and when asked whether the Three Lions boss would have been impressed with Villa’s centre-halves Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, Smith replied: “I think he will have been impressed with Matt Targett, who is having a fantastic season, as well.
“He is one of the players we brought in after we were promoted to the Premier League and he will be the first to say he had to work hard on his fitness, to get to the levels we wanted.
“He is getting better all the time. I think he has been one of our standout players this season and put in another good performance at Leeds.
“His consistency has been great but there has been a gradual improvement too. We knew he had quality with the ball at his feet. We wanted him to work harder off the ball and he is doing that.”
Villa’s excellent defensive display meant Anwar El Ghazi’s fifth minute goal was enough to earn a win, their seventh away from home in the Premier League, which kept them firmly in the race for European qualification.
But Smith, who takes his team to Sheffield United on Wednesday before Saturday’s derby at Wolves, claims to be paying little attention to the table.
“We can’t afford to look at the table. We just have to concentrate on the next game,” he said. “Sheffield United are fighting for their lives so that is going to be a big game on Wednesday.
“We have been doing ever so well on the road. I’d like us to be a bit tidier on the ball but we had to give up some possession at Leeds, as I didn’t think it was the type of pitch where you wanted to build up slowly.”