Aston Villa latest news: "Vulnerable" verdict made amid big Bodymoor Heath claim

Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith

Aston Villa's defensive vulnerability has led to doubts over head coach Dean Smith's claims that there is confidence behind the scenes, according to Express & Star journalist Luke Hatfield.

Villa head to Southampton tomorrow having suffered four consecutive defeats, leaving them just three points clear of the Premier League's relegation zone.

What's the latest news involving Smith and Villa?

Despite Villa's loss of form, Smith has stated that there is 'great belief' at the Bodymoor Heath training ground.

Smith has also insisted that he remains confident of his side being able to bounce back from a hugely disappointing October which saw Villa fail to register a single point.

Although Smith is keen not to become despondent, it is thought that his job is under threat and Telegraph reporter John Percy has claimed that Smith is facing a fight to show that he can take the club forward.

Reports suggest that Villa's owners are already preparing for life without Smith at the helm and have made informal contact with Paulo Fonseca over potentially being appointed as the 50-year-old's successor.

That has led to further doubts over Smith, who moved into the hotseat three years ago, having a long-term future at Villa Park.

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What has Luke Hatfield said about the situation?

Hatfield was surprised about Smith's comments on confidence within the Villa camp.

The journalist is shocked by how easily the Villans are leaking goals, with only Norwich City and Newcastle United - who are in the relegation zone - conceding more since the season got underway.

That comes after Villa only conceded 46 goals in the entirety of last term.

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When asked what he thought of Smith's claims, Hatfield told GIVEMESPORT: "Would I agree with it with what I'm seeing on the pitch? Maybe not.

"Some of the players have visibly lost a little belief. There's a backline there which was so strong last season but now seems very vulnerable."

Is Smith capable of improving Villa defensively?

Smith was backed to the tune of £93million during the summer transfer window, but Villa didn't spend a penny on a defender.

The only backline reinforcements were Ashley Young and Axel Tuanzebe, who joined for free and on a season-long loan deal respectively.

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Which of the following Aston Villa players didn't score in the club's 7-2 victory over Liverpool last season?

Smith has used a host of formations since the campaign began in August, with him opting for a three-man defence and a flat back four.

Villa fans reacted badly to Smith's decision to drop club captain Tyrone Mings from the starting line-up against West Ham United last weekend.

Smith's hopes of keeping a clean sheet at Southampton tomorrow have not been helped by the fact he will be without centre-half Ezri Konsa, who was sent off during the defeat to West Ham.

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