Aston Villa team news: Smith tipped to 'persevere' with 'struggling' £25m ace

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith looking a little confused

The Express & Star journalist Luke Hatfield expects Aston Villa manager Dean Smith to stick with Leon Bailey despite the winger's disappointing outing against West Ham on Sunday.

Bailey was making his first start for Villa since joining the club for £25m in the summer, but he failed to make the most of his opportunity.

How did Bailey fare against West Ham?

The 24-year-old has endured a frustrating start to life at Villa Park, with injuries severely restricting his game time.

However, he has shown moments of class when he has played, most notably when he netted his first goal back in September against Everton.

Many supporters will have been excited to see what he could do when he was named in Villa's starting XI on the weekend, but he was unable to make a significant impact.

According to WhoScored, Bailey failed to register a single key pass, and he only managed to complete 69.6% of his attempted passes as Villa were beaten 4-1 by the Irons.

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What did Hatfield say about Bailey?

Hatfield believes Bailey's lack of match sharpness was evident against West Ham, but he expects Smith to give him another chance in the starting line-up.

Speaking about the matter to GIVEMESPORT, Hatfield said: “I think they’ll persevere with Buendia and Bailey on either wing. Buendia had a good game, but Bailey really struggled against West Ham.

“He looked a player short of minutes and couldn’t get anything right on the ball or off the ball. So, they’ll be expecting more from him.”

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Will Bailey start against Southampton?

Villa travel to Southampton on tonight, hoping to snap their four-match losing streak. Whether Bailey starts or not is set to be a major talking point heading into that contest.

It would be harsh to judge Bailey on just one below-par performance, and Smith may be tempted to play him once again in order to build the attacker's confidence.

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However, the pressure is building on Smith, with Villa's hierarchy reportedly making contact with Paulo Fonseca in recent days.

Therefore, Smith needs to get his team selection right, and he could decide that he wants to go with a more dependable player rather than picking Bailey, who is still trying to find his feet in the Premier League.

With this in mind, it would not be a major surprise to see the Jamaican forward back on the bench at St Mary's. 

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