Neil Taylor “has trained fine” and is “ready” for Sunday’s meeting with Birmingham City, said Dean Smith in Aston Villa’s recent pre-match press conference. The left-back was a doubt ahead of the weekend fixture after pulling out of international duty due to injury. However, he’s made a full recovery, is back in training and should start against the Blues.
As per the Express and Star and Villa’s official website, Smith said: “(Neil) Taylor (is) out there training and ready. Taylor (has) trained fine. Taylor (is) fine for the game”. Villa would have been in trouble without Taylor, as there’s no natural left-back available to replace him. Alan Hutton may have been forced to cover on Sunday, although there was a previous worry he’d been needed at centre-back in place of James Chester.
Jordan Amavi was sold to Olympique Marseille over the summer and wasn’t replaced by Steve Bruce, so Smith is now forced to put square pegs into round holes. Fortunately, he should be able to name an unchanged backline of Taylor, Chester, Axel Tuanzebe and Hutton against Birmingham. The quartet have helped Villa pick up two clean sheets in their last two league games.
A win over Birmingham on Sunday could see the Villans go just outside of the playoff places. They’ll fancy their chances of at least keeping the Blues at bay with their preferred defence available, but John McGinn’s absence could be a blow.