By Danny Mills

14th Feb, 2021 | 2:07pm

Mills: This is where Aston Villa boss Smith ranks among English managers

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is “up there” among the best English managers in the country.

That is according to ex-Premier League star Danny Mills, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Villa surpassed their 2019-20 points total on Saturday.

The 0-0 draw with Brighton moved them onto 35 points after 22 matches, one more than they managed in the whole of last season.

There are eight English managers in the Premier League at present, with the other seven all among the bottom eight places.

Mills has been wowed by Smith’s achievements this season and claims that the 49-year-old can continue to impress with the players at his disposal.

Asked where Smith ranks among the best English bosses, he told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams:  “He’s up there. This season he’s done incredibly well. He’s been able to get the recruitment right. He’s brought in some great players and that’s made a huge difference.

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“The likes of Barkley and Watkins have been superb, he’s got McGinn back fit, he’s got a really good goalkeeper as well.

“You get a few results and you build the confidence, and that’s what Dean Smith has done.

“They survived last time around by the skin of their teeth and now they’re looking to consolidate.

“You look at it at the moment and you think if they can get a top-half finish after where they were last season, you have to say that’s incredible. Hats off to them.”

Aston Villa are currently sitting in 8th place with a game in hand on six of the seven teams above them.

They survived on the final day of last season, a point against West Ham enough to see them over the line.

In other news, a former Villa man has revealed John McGinn’s thoughts on playing alongside Ollie Watkins.