Aston Villa boss Dean Smith confident Leon Bailey will soon get up to speed

Villa boss Dean Smith says it ‘won’t take too long’ for Leon Bailey to succeed in the Premier League, with the winger fit to face Chelsea.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith

Smith will be without key duo Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia at Stamford Bridge this evening.

Summer signing Bailey, though, is among a host of players Villa have back available following the international break, and Smith is excited over what the former Bayer Leverkusen man can bring to the table after shaking off a hamstring issue.

“The reason we signed him was the player he is,” said Smith.

“He’s got great ability, he’s quick, he can go in behind, he can score, he can create. We’re looking forward to working with that.

“Unfortunately we’ve only had it for 30 minutes so far this season but he’s had a good 10 days training.

“We won’t build him up too much because he needs to find his feet in the Premier League but from what I’ve seen so far, it won’t take him too long. He’s got good pace. He would be up in the top three in our team.

“I worked with John Terry for last three years and though the levels that myself and him played at as centre-halves were miles apart, the one thing we spoke about a lot is that defenders are scared of pace and that’s what Leon has got in abundance. That’s what will scare opposition players.”

Bailey looks set to start and be tasked with threatening the Blues in the absence of Buendia.

Jed Steer, meanwhile, is set to be between the sticks while Martinez misses out – and Smith is confident Steer can step up to the plate.

“We’ve all seen what Emi Martinez has brought to the team. But when some players aren’t available, it allows an opportunity for others,” said Smith.

“In Jed Steer we’ve got a goalkeeper who we think highly of. One of the reasons why he is here as a No.2 behind Martinez is because we know he can step in.

“He’s one of the players who got us promoted to the Premier League.

“I think the way Emi Martinez has come into this club and trained and worked has improved Jed Steer as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”

Carney Chukwuemeka is also set to miss out for Villa after picking up an adductor strain with the England Under-19s.

Bertrand Traore (hamstring) Ollie Watkins (knee), John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey (Covid isolation) are all available, though, along with Bailey.

The hosts, meanwhile, are hoping to have Thiago Silva available after negotiations with the Brazilian FA.

N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic have been ruled out.

Villa chief Smith added on Chelsea: “You always plan for each team you’re going to play against and we’ve come up with a game-plan we believe will hurt Chelsea.

“We know the squad they’ve got available and they’re the current European champions, but we have great belief in ourselves and what we’re trying to do.”

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