This afternoon Villa played out a scoreless draw with Watford in the inaugural Graham Taylor Trophy.
A more solid defensive showing from both sides overshadowed a lack of chances but arguably Villa had the best opportunity when Alan Hutton was fouled in the box, and up stepped Henri Lansbury looking to keep his record of three from three – it was saved by Heurelo Gomes.
Steer, Hutton, Chester, Terry (Samba 74), Taylor, Elmohamady (Bree 74), Whelan (Hourihane 74), Lansbury (Amavi 74), Grealish (Bacuna 26), Green (Bjarnason 69), Agbonlahor (Hogan 54).
Gomes (Pantilimon 60), Cathcart, Kabasele (Prodl 9), Kaboul, Mason, Amrabat (Femenia 60), Cleverley (Hughes 60), Doucore (Watson 60), Chalobah, Pereyra (Success HT), Sinclair (Okaka 60).
Referee: Oliver Langford.
Assistant Referee 1: Danny Gratton.
Assistant referee 2: Craig Taylor.
Fourth Official: Ben Watkiss.
Speaking to the Official Site following the game Bruce wanted more in an attacking sense, but he was pleased with how we defended on the day.
‘I thought it was okay. It`s always difficult playing against a Premier League team. But I thought we acquitted ourselves well. The difference is taking the chances when they come along. We missed two glaring ones. That`s something we have to improve on if we want to get to where we want to be. It`s been our achilles heel since I have been here – not scoring as many as we should do. However, there were lots of pleasing signs. I think our new signings will help us enormously with their experience.’
With the penalty being one of those glaring chances.
‘Henri Lansbury had scored three out of three. The goalkeeper has made a good save. He should maybe be a bit disappointed in that it`s a good height for the goalkeeper. However, next week, let’s hope he gets one and sticks it away.’
John Terry again came in for praise.
‘For me, John Terry is the signing of the summer. It`s not often you can persuade someone like him. That just proves what a football club we have here. It`s reminded people we are a big, big club and we are trying to go in the right direction.’
The downside to the day was the first half injury sustained by Jack Grealish, and at the time of speaking Bruce was still waiting on word from the hospital.
‘He`s gone to hospital. He`s not great. We don`t know. He`s very, very sore. We will know more in the next 24 hours. It`s in and around his ribcage. Has he damaged his ribs? We don`t know yet. We will wait to see how he is.’
Going back to the game and pre season in general, Bruce remained largely pleased.
‘Sometimes pre-season can give you a false sense of security because they are friendly games. I liked the balance of us. In areas today, we looked very, very decent. I think the lads we have brought in will certainly improve us. We are as ready as we can be. The proof will be in the pudding next week.’
As for an update on Jonathan Kodjia and Mile Jedinak, he added.
‘They are still a little bit away – but not a country mile away. They were arguably our best two players last season. We have been without them all pre-season which is always difficult. We will welcome them back into the squad when they are ready. Kodjia has had a serious one so we will have to be careful with him and box clever. He`s on the road to recovery. They will be weeks rather than months.’
With a mixed reaction to the sale of Nathan Baker, Bruce went on to add.
‘I never thought I`d be selling Nathan Baker and then, all of a sudden, it`s rolled into a transfer within a week. It made sense for everybody. I want to wish him the best of luck. He`s done very well for the club. I was in a situation where he isn`t going to play every week. When you get to your mid-20s like Nathan, he wanted to play. I couldn`t offer him that. We certainly wish him the best of luck.’
He ended with words of praise for Glenn Whelan.
‘I thought he was terrific. He does exactly what it says on the tin. He`s a good competitor, good passer, really good energy for his age. He`s been in the Premier League and he does everything well.’
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