June 25, 2020 / 11:45 AM / 17 days ago

Villa must be more clinical in battle for survival, says Smith

Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Aston Villa - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - June 24, 2020 Aston Villa manager Dean Smith as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Lindsey Parnaby/Pool via REUTERS/Files

(Reuters) - Aston Villa are a hard team to beat but they will need to be more clinical in front of goal if they are to avoid being relegated from the Premier League, manager Dean Smith said on Thursday.

Villa are 19th in the standings, level on points with Bournemouth and West Ham United above them with only goal difference separating the three sides.

Smith’s side, who have picked up just two points from their last seven games, had 14 attempts on goal in the 1-1 draw with Newcastle United on Wednesday but needed a late header from Egyptian defender Ahmed Elmohamady to rescue a point.

“We know draws are not enough and we need to get some wins from somewhere,” Smith told reporters in a virtual news conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“We have been unfortunate not to get the wins but our performance levels have been a lot better. We look a really hard team to beat, we just need to be more clinical.”

Wolves have won both their games since the league’s resumption and are in sixth place, two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

“They deserve to be where they are at the moment... competing in Europe and a realistic aim of being a top six team. Credit goes out to all of them,” the 49-year-old added, hailing the incredible job done by Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo.

Englishman Smith confirmed that midfielder John McGinn, who started each of Villa’s three games on his return from a serious ankle injury, could be rested for Saturday’s clash.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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