English Premiership

'No excuses' for virus-hit Villa ahead of Premier League return

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Dean Smith (Getty Image)
Dean Smith (Getty Image)

Dean Smith says Aston Villa were taken aback by the speed of the coronavirus outbreak at the club but said there would be no excuses as they prepare to return to Premier League action.

Villa, who face Manchester City on Wednesday, have not played in the English top-flight since New Year's Day.

Nine players and five staff tested positive for Covid-19 and the club's training ground was closed.

Smith's side, in 11th place, now find themselves at least two games behind the rest of the Premier League and four fixtures behind some teams.

"Experience has taught us that it can hit you very quickly, but I'm very thankful that our doctor was quick to deal with it," Smith said on Tuesday.

"I'm not going to make any excuses -- the players are ready to play. We are looking forward to this game and we don't feel that we are handicapped.

"We'll have had a three-day build-up for the Manchester City game. The first day was almost like the kids' first day back in the playground and they were full of energy and enthusiasm."

Villa fielded a side of youth-team players in the FA Cup defeat to Liverpool on January 8 before having Premier League games against Tottenham and Everton postponed.

They now face a gruelling schedule of six games in 18 days, starting with Wednesday's trip to the Etihad to face Pep Guardiola's high-flying team.

"The players that I've got here have got that hunger and desire to play football games," Smith said.

"I'm sure the majority of them would admit that six games in 18 days is better than 12 days on the training ground.

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Fixtures
Wed 03 Mar 21 20:00 PM (SAST)
Sheffield United
Aston Villa
Bramall Lane
Wed 03 Mar 21 20:00 PM (SAST)
Burnley
Leicester City
Turf Moor
Wed 03 Mar 21 22:15 PM (SAST)
Crystal Palace
Manchester United
Selhurst Park
Results
Tue 02 Mar 21
Manchester City 4
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Mon 01 Mar 21
Everton 1
Southampton 0
Sun 28 Feb 21
Sheffield United 0
Liverpool 2
Logs
Team
P
W
PTS
1. Manchester City
27
20
65
2. Manchester United
26
14
50
3. Leicester City
26
15
49
4. West Ham United
26
13
45