Whelan Exclusive: Villa can benefit from new development v Sheffield United

Noel Whelan has claimed the absence of fans could actually help Aston Villa players with so much riding on their final 10 fixtures. 

However, the former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, believes it will be a “very tough ask” for Dean Smith’s side to beat Sheffield United on Wednesday.

Villa will host the Blades in the first game of the Premier League’s return after a three month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Claret and Blue slipped into the bottom three before the break after a torrid run of form that saw them lose all their fixtures in February and March.

Whelan suggests the immense pressure on Dean Smith’s side to climb out of the relegation zone will be aided by the absence of fans.

“It is going to be very, very tough,” he told Football Insider. 

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“Chris Wilder’s side will be hard to break down and they have quality up front and spent a lot of money on Mousset.

“It is going to be a tough, tough ask. United have been unbelievable this season.

“If you look on paper, the glamour players are in the Aston Villa side. But what Sheffield United have is a very honest set of players that will die on the field for a result.

“There is a lot of pressure on Villa right now.

“They have to find some belief and confidence and it might be easier without the fans being there. It might relieve some of the pressure off these Villa players and allow them to go out and produce.”

Villa will be without long-term absentees Tom Heaton and Wesley both of whom are recovering from knee ligament damage.

However, the timely return of John McGinn from a fractured ankle will be a big boost to Dean Smith and John Terry.

In other Aston Villa news, it can be REVEALED that Wolves have opened talks with Villa 22-year-old.