As Dean Smith plays out these final matches, it’s clear he’s taking a long look at what he’s got and basically auditioning the squad in advance of the summer. I’m not expecting him to unearth any surprises, as I’m pretty sure they know what they’ve got. But, you keep faith with your players by giving them every chance to finish what they started. And there’ll be some big decisions to make. It’s a tricky moment. Stalwarts and ever-presents may becomes substitutes in three months.
Villa face strong opposition again, hosting the Red Devils this afternoon. And once again, Jack Grealish will be absent. He’s returned to light training, though, and the rest of the side will be looking to the Everton match for a bit of a building block.
Naturally, United supporters forcing a postponement of the Liverpool fixture was the week’s biggest news, even eclipsing the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Bodymoor Heath to open the new Performance Center. But of course the delay in the match had to be filled with talking, and, as is his wont, Souness wouldn’t be denied the opportunity to open his mouth and say stupid things about Jack Grealish. I’ve taken the bait.
The season’s winding down, another match without Jack, and calls for the youth after another impressive Cup performance. And all eyes are turning firmly to the summer window. Naturally, I understand the calls to blood some of the kids at this point. It’s one of those things that seem to make sense. Me, I have no idea whether it actually does. Some obvious pros, but also a couple of cons, to be fair.
Almost in defiance of supporters, Dean Smith has put Ross Barkley back in the starting XI. He’s taking a big chance here. Is Barkley is capable of seizing it?