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Dean Smith hoping Aston Villa can replicate Wolves’ recent success

Dean Smith File Photo
(Image credit: Mark Kerton)

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith admits Wolves’ recent success is a source of inspiration for his club as they prepare to face their Midlands rivals on Saturday.

Villa have looked on with envy in the past few years as Wolves, as well as Leicester, have challenged for major honours and competed in European competitions.

Wanderers reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League last season while the Foxes famously won the Premier League in 2016 and subsequently enjoyed a run to the last eight of the Champions League a year later.

“We have a proud history as a club but next year will be 25 years since we last won a major trophy,” said Smith, who guided Villa to the League Cup final last season.

“We went close 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.

“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 still be without Wesley at Molinuex on Saturday. The Brazilian striker has been sidelined since badly rupturing his cruciate knee ligaments on January 1 against Burnley.

The 24-year-old, who cost Villa £22million last summer, will not be rushed back and a date for his return is likely to be beyond January 2021.

Smith provided an update on his recovery, saying: “It was always penned in to be a year. He’s not group-training at the moment. He is doing individual work, individual rehab, building up his aerobic capacity.

“He is striking a ball now but it was a significant injury and we always felt it would be a 12-month injury. We are hoping to get him into group training probably at the start of January and take it from there.

“It wasn’t just the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), I think the medial as well. I’m not a medical expert but it wasn’t a very good one, that’s for sure, and a significant injury will always take longer than a normal ACL.”

Ross Barkley is making progress in his recovery from injury but the Villa midfielder will not be fit in time for the trip to Molinuex.

The 27-year-old, on a season-long loan from Chelsea, sustained a hamstring injury early on in the home defeat to Brighton on November 21 and missed the loss at West Ham. It is hoped he could return next week against either Burnley or West Brom.

Centre-back Bjorn Engels will be back in contention after a long lay-off with a thigh injury. The Belgian has not played a competitive match for Villa since the 4-0 loss at Leicester back in March.