Wolverhampton-Aston Villa Preview
Jack Grealish is unlikely to be ready for Aston Villa's clash with Wolves on Saturday, Dean Smith has confirmed.
Grealish has missed Villa's last three matches, with Smith's team picking up just three points from the nine on offer.
Their talisman has scored six Premier League goals and teed up another 10, and Smith had been hopeful the England international would return for the midlands derby, though that is unlikely to be the case.
"He's doing better, he's unlikely to play. I've not sat down with the medical staff but he was running on the treadmill yesterday," Smith said on Friday.
"He looks pain free now. It's frustrating because of the quality of the player but I've always said it will be guided by him, only he will know the pain that he feels so we have to be guided somewhat by Jack and we're doing it on a day by day basis.
"I was hoping he'd be running on the grass but he's not so it's unlikely he'll be there for Saturday."
Villa host a Wolves team that had their three-match unbeaten run ended by Manchester City on Tuesday.
Nuno Espirito Santo said: "It's very important and is one of our goals, to bounce back, and to play good tomorrow. We know it's going to be tough, it's a derby, it's a special game for everyone, and we want to compete.
"Reacting to a defeat, the best way is the next game and hopefully we'll do it tomorrow. The target is tomorrow and then after tomorrow, we don't change our approach, it's game by game."
Aston Villa - Ross Barkley
Coming back from his own injury issues, Barkley has failed to step up in Grealish's absence, but after he was dropped to the bench against Leeds United and Sheffield United, the creative onus could be on the Chelsea loanee once more.
Wolves - Adama Traore
Traore has been disappointing this season, and is yet to register a goal or assist. He had three attempts against City, though none were on target. However, on the break, his pace is always a constant threat, and Nuno will be looking for the former Barcelona player to provide an outball.
•In their last game against City, Wolves defender Conor Coady scored with his first ever Premier League shot on target, in what was his 103rd appearance in the competition. It is the longest an outfield player has waited for their first shot on target in the Premier League since Paulo Ferreira (105 games between 2004 and 2010).
•Villa have won all five of their Premier League home games when scoring first this season and lost all five at Villa Park when conceding first. The other game finished goalless, making Villa Park the only ground not to see a single point gained/lost from a losing/winning position this season.
•Only Sheffield United have conceded the first goal in more different Premier League games than Wolves this season (18). Indeed, Wolves have opened the scoring in just one of their last 17 league games, doing so in their 1-0 victory against Leeds last month.
•Ollie Watkins has scored seven home Premier League goals this season - the last Aston Villa player to net more at Villa Park in a top-flight campaign was Christian Benteke in 2012-13 (11), while the last English player to do so was Darius Vassell in 2001-02 (eight).
•Villa are looking to secure their first league double over Wolves since the 2003-04 campaign, following their 1-0 win at Molineux back in December.
Updated March 5, 2021