Ross Barkley should be omitted from the Aston Villa starting XI against Man United on Friday night despite the injury all-clear.
That is according to Kevin Phillips, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about the possibility of an immediate recall for the attacking midfielder.
BBC Sport report Barkley is expected to be fit for the first time since he sustained a hamstring injury early in the home defeat against Brighton on 21 November.
The England international has made a big impact since joining on loan from Chelsea in October.
But Phillips believes an immediate recall should be resisted by Smith despite the 27-year-old’s impressive credentials.
“Wow… It is a tough one for Dean Smith,” Phillips told Football Insider. “The team is playing so well at the moment, why would you disrupt the side?
“I know Barkley is one of their best players but it could disrupt it. It depends at what stage he is at as well. Is he fully fit?
“There is no way you can leave El Ghazi out the team the way he is scoring at the moment.
“I know Traore has also got a couple but if one was to make way I think it would be Traore.
“I would be very inclined to leave it as it is though. That way you can gradually bring Ross back in. Listen, it is a great headache for Dean Smith to have.”