Aston Villa resume their fight to maintain their Premier League status when hosting Sheffield United on Wednesday evening (June 17).

Villans boss Dean Smith has midfielder John McGinn available for the first time since December after the Scot recovered from an ankle injury.

However, according to The Express & Star, he may not be pressed into action just yet with the Villa management team conscious of the busy schedule in the coming weeks.

“It’s great to have John back but I have to manage him accordingly. It’s easy for me to go and throw him straight into the battle, knowing the sort of lad he is,” Smith said.

“But the other players have had 14 weeks without a game and John has had six months without a game.”

The club has been training with Leicester City while The Daily Mail reported they drew a friendly with West Bromwich Albion, and despite McGinn playing his part in both, he may still be rested.

Aside from the doubts surrounding his participation, Villa’s only other absentees are goalkeeper Tom Heaton and striker Wesley, who both have knee injuries.

“Tom Heaton and Wesley are still long term injuries,” Smith confirmed.

“We didn’t expect them to be back until the start of next season.”

The early evening match will be the league’s first since the coronavirus pandemic brought about a complete shutdown in March.

“It is an honour [to be the first game], the eyes of the world will be on us and we are looking forward to it,” Smith told the club’s official website.

“The players feel comfortable and safe, and thankfully nobody at this football club has tested positive.”

Villa are 19th in the table but have a game in hand over the teams around them and a win in this match would move them up to 16th – at least before others return to action.

With the Blades flying high in seventh, Smith’s side are seeking their first win against them in three attempts having not beaten them since January 2018.


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