Aston Villa

Dean Smith will be “rubbing his hands together” after watching his Aston Villa stars shine on international duty, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the likes of Ollie Watkins and John McGinn would be buzzing with confidence after their goalscoring exploits this week.

The England striker netted 20 minutes after coming off the bench for his international debut against San Marino.

Meanwhile, McGinn scored a dramatic 85th-minute overhead kick in Scotland’s 2-2 draw with Austria.

Trezeguet and Bertrand Traore were also celebrating after helping their respective countries qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Villa have been on a poor run recently, with just one win in seven games.

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Their drop in form has coincided with a seven-game goalless run for Watkins.

However, Whelan suggested the international break had been a blessing for Smith and his players.

Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “Ollie Watkins hadn’t scored for seven games for Aston Villa. He comes on, gets a goal – that’s going to do him the world of good when he returns to domestic football.

“He’s still got more game time to play for England before he joins back up with Aston Villa.

“You could see the joy on his face and probably a little bit of relief as well because it’s never easy to make an England debut. You want to impress, you want to do yourself justice.

“Getting that goal that probably takes the shackles off him a little bit now. That first goal is out of the way so it might give him that little bit more freedom and belief.

“At Aston Villa, Dean Smith will be rubbing his hands together going: ‘Right, my goalscorer’s back at it – brilliant.’

“Seeing other players get on the scoresheet from Villa makes it that little bit more pleasing.


In other news, Alan Hutton has revealed he was gutted Aston Villa star flopped in Grealish absence.