Dean Smith on whether Villa can repeat 5-1 City romp
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Dean Smith insists Norwich City look a different prospect to the side Aston Villa crushed 5-1 at Carrow Road.
Both clubs go into a Boxing Day Premier League tussle in the bottom three, and Smith knows Villa must dig deep after four straight losses.
The Championship play-off winners are without Tyrone Mings and John McGinn through injury, but Smith is trying to take the pressure off his depleted side.
"Every game is a must-win. We were in the bottom three when we went to Norwich earlier in the season and we beat them 5-1," he said.
"I'm not saying that it's going to be 5-1 on Boxing Day because they look a very much improved team. They've played well in their last two games and they've got a lot of injured players back.
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"We're now without Tyrone Mings and John McGinn. It's a big game, that's for sure. I was pleased with how Villa Park stuck with us even at a 3-0 down (against Southampton on Saturday) and it's up to us now to perform and get them behind us."
McGinn is set to miss the next three months after fracturing his ankle in that 3-1 top flight defeat to the Saints. Smith must weigh up whether to bring in reinforcements in next month's window to cover for the inspirational Scottish midfielder.
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"He's on crutches. Obviously, he's very disappointed," said Smith. "He's a strong character, though. He'll come back a stronger person for it, and a better player. For us, it's a big loss because he's a key player with the energy, drive, qualities and enthusiasm he has.
"He will be sorely missed, but it gives opportunities to others as well now. We wish him a speedy recovery.
"I don't know (when he is back). Hopefully as soon as possible.
"If I was going to guess, I'd say three months. It probably changes your stance a little bit in the market in terms of what you're looking at.
"We're all aware, in losing John, how it affects the team. While it gives the other lads opportunities, we're also looking out there to see what we can improve for the football club as well."
Mings is set to return to training on Boxing Day after a hamstring injury.