Dean Smith Has a Stronger Squad With a Wild Card to Play in the Cup Semi-Final Second-Leg

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In the first leg Dean Smith had the bizarre situation of not having a single striker to select for the difficult first-leg at The King Power. In the end, in a game they were expected to be well beaten in, Villa came away with a decent 1-1 draw. Their determination and effort could have even been rewarded further, if it hadn’t been for a defensive lapse and the woodwork.

The gap of two weeks between semi-final legs always gave Villa a chance to get a striker in and their latest signing from Genk, Ally Samatta is available to play.

Samatta will be something of a wildcard for Leicester to deal with. Brendan Rodgers will be about as clued up on him as Villa supporters currently are. There’s no guarantees that Samatta will 100% start the game, although you’d think the week’s training to focus on the game will make Smith confident he can do a job.

The Villa Head Coach is further buoyed by the return of Keinan Davis, who has been back in training, giving him a striker option from the bench, if needed.

“We’ve got a pretty much fully fit squad – and it’s very rare I can say that,” said Smith, in the pre-match presser.

“We’ve got the long-term injuries that are out for the season, but I’ve got Keinan Davis back and available for selection, Ally Samatta’s trained all week so he’s available.” 

“It’s nice to be able to be picking from a strong squad,” added Smith.

Vardy 80%?

Meanwhile, his opposite number, Brendan Rodgers will be sweating on the fitness of the Premier League’s top scorer, Jamie Vardy. The Leicester City boss declared that his striker is 80% fit at the moment.

Whether Rodgers is playing Villa’s bluff, it’s expected that Vardy will at least play some part in the game.

Despite going into the game as underdogs, Villa will be encouraged by both the first leg and their recent improvement in form, with their injury-time winner against Watford, the biggest indication they can get a result against the visiting Foxes.

It’s going to be an interesting night at Villa Park, that’s for sure, but with improvements in squad depth, Smith will know he has a chance to get to Wembley.


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