By Alex McLeish

30th Jul, 2021 | 8:00pm

McLeish makes 'amazing' Aston Villa claim as talks open on Terry replacement

Alex McLeish has insisted the Aston Villa board must back Dean Smith in the hunt to replace John Terry.

The former Villa boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the 50-year-old could have an “amazing” opportunity to continue building his coaching staff.

As revealed by Football Insider on Thursday (July 29th), Smith has held talks with Bristol City assistant manager Keith Downing about filling the void left by Terry.

However, it is understood chief executive Christian Purslow could block a move as he looks for a high profile appointment.

Terry left his post as Smith’s assistant manager on Monday.

The Villa boss still has Craig Shakespeare, who is also assistant manager, on board.

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With Terry gone, McLeish insisted Villa must support Smith appoint his own coaching staff.

McLeish told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “Well, what is Craig Shakespeare’s role, his particular role?

“Does he move Craig up a notch and bring somebody else? Does he nurture another young coach? Maybe another footballer who’s recently retired.

“Dean will have a lot of these contacts, as clubs do. It’s not only recruitment for players but generally, you try to keep your own staff.

“Back in the day it was difficult for me to bring in like three or four. You see clubs in the Premier League, Pep (Guardiola) I think has brought quite a lot to restructure the whole Man City club.

“It’s amazing when you get opportunities like that to build a big staff and it appears Dean may get that chance.”

Terry first joined Villa as a player on a free transfer after leaving Chelsea in 2017.

He left in the summer of 2018 but returned as part of Smith’s coaching staff later that year.

In other news, blockbuster Aston Villa transfer set to be completed “next week” after terms agreed.