Aston Villa latest news: Dean Smith told move big-money Villa Park star into new role

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Journalist Luke Hatfield has suggested that Aston Villa should switch to a 4-3-3, with Ollie Watkins operating from the left.

What has Smith opted for this season?

Smith has often deployed a 4-2-3-1 in recent years but changed to a back-three for Villa's trip to Chelsea last month and has stuck with that formation ever since.

Despite that defeat at Stamford Bridge, Villa performed well in large parts of that game and the tactical change appeared to pay off when they beat both Everton and Manchester United without conceding last month.

However, Smith's side have lost each of their last three matches and have looked toothless in the losses to Tottenham and Arsenal in particular.

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Therefore, Hatfield reckons that Villa could benefit from having an extra player in their frontline having gone with Watkins alongside Danny Ings recently, which hasn't really worked, with record signing Emiliano Buendia the man to miss out until returning against Wolves.

Furthermore, Leon Bailey, who was back from injury to play the second 45 minutes at the Emirates, is able to play on both wings and could be in with a shout of a starting berth if Smith reverts to a back-four when Villa host West Ham on Sunday.

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ENTER GIVEAWAY

What did Hatfield say?

He told GIVEMESPORT: "It might be a case of shifting to a 4-3-3, be a bit more compact defensively. Still keep three in midfield, but maybe you can have Ollie Watkins off the left. He can play there; we've seen it before.

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"He's very effective there off that left flank, so maybe it's a case of shifting slightly to do that."

Has Watkins played on the left before?

Since signing for Aston Villa, Watkins' only outing on the left came as a late substitute in a Carabao Cup tie against Stoke last season.

However, whilst he's been asked to play down the middle in claret and blue, left-wing is a position that the England international is more than familiar with.

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Watkins also played up front in his final season for Brentford, but in the two years prior, before Neal Maupay had joined Brighton, the 25-year-old was used mainly as a winger but showed that he can be as big of a threat in the box, scoring 20 goals in 86 Championship appearances in that two-year period.

He might not fare as well in the Premier League, but he's definitely capable of shifting across should Smith try something different in the coming weeks.

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