Belfast Telegraph

Smith backs Wesley to shine for Villa

The Brazilian striker has two goals to his name to date.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has backed striker Wesley to come good (Nick Potts/PA)
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has backed striker Wesley to come good (Nick Potts/PA)

By PA Sport Staff

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has backed £22million striker Wesley Moraes to come good after taking him to task over his performance against Burnley.

The 22-year-old Brazilian has managed just two Premier League goals since his big-money summer arrival from Club Brugge and is taking time to settle into his new role.

However Smith, who takes his side to Norwich on Saturday, is convinced he will get to grips with English football and prove his worth.

He said at his pre-match press conference: “His performance wasn’t great on Saturday against Burnley, and he was the first to admit that to me afterwards as well when I went through his clips with him.

“But what I’ve seen in training this week has been a reaction. He’s trained very well this week and he’ll be the first to go out there and try to prove people wrong.

“It’s a tough job as a lone striker and he was up against two streetwise centre-backs – James Tarkowski, who I’ve had myself at Brentford, and (Ben) Mee are both very streetwise centre-halves who can give a lot of centre forwards problems in this league.

“The fact that they got the upper hand early on him in the game and he showed his frustrations a little bit during the game, he’ll learn from.

“He’s a young striker – he’s still only 22 – but he’ll get better and better.”

If Wesley is still finding his feet in the top flight, Scotland international John McGinn is thriving after playing his part in Villa’s rise from the Sky Bet Championship.

The 24-year-old midfielder scored his third league goal of the campaign against the Clarets and is fulfilling the potential the club saw in him when they signed him from Hibernian in the summer of 2018.

Smith said: “I was talking to John today about it – he feels he probably could have had six or seven goals already, such has been the standard of his play.

“We knew what a player we’ve got here. He signed a new contract at the start of the season, he’s playing ever so well. We knew his adaptation to the Premier League would be seamless and it has been.

“He’s just showing us the potential that we believed was in him anyway.”

Smith will have Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett and Henri Lansbury available for selection, but Saturday’s game will come too soon for Jonathan Kodjia.

PA

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