Pundit tips Smith to solve Villa striker problem most clubs would dream of


Former Aston Villa striker Kevin Phillips feels current boss Dean Smith may adopt a new system to accommodate his embarrassment of riches up front.

It has been a summer of change at Villa Park, with the exit of Jack Grealish dominating the headlines. The England midfielder has completed his protracted move to Manchester City for £100m. It was the worst kept secret in English football and Smith knew he would have cash to spend.

And, with that in mind, the former Brentford chief has been happy to rebuild his attacking ranks. Emiliano Buendia has arrived from Norwich City while Leon Bailey was a big-money capture from Bayer Leverkusen.

With both flanks now covered, the Villans paid Southampton around £25m for striker Danny Ings. Ashley Young has signed up on a free transfer.

And the club’s forward line will be unrecognisable from the one that managed an 11th-placed finish in 2020-2021. One potential issue is how Smith fits all the stars into his starting line-up.

Dean Smith TEAMtalk

The West Midlanders usually play one up front, with Ollie Watkins playing all but 90 minutes of Villa’s league campaign last term. But Phillips believes that may change to make room for the new arrivals.

“The only thing is, that Dean Smith does not really play with two up top,” he told Football Insider.

“Perhaps Ings and Ollie Watkins will share the load but you would like to think that, coming in for £25million, that Danny Ings will be coming in with the promise that he will play week in, week out.

“Perhaps it will be a change of system from Villa next season to accommodate both of them with Buendia and Bailey in behind them.”

Phillips predicts Villa goal glut

Watkins topped the Villa goalscoring charts last season. The 25-year-old England hitman bagged 14 in the Premier League and another couple in the EFL Cup.

But he will have help in the coming campaign, with Bailey and Buendia happy to chip in with goals. Ings’ prowess in front of goal is well known.

He notched 22 for Southampton in 2019-20 to finish joint-second behind Jamie Vardy in the race for the Golden Boot. And Phillips is buzzing at the prospect of the new trio combining with Watkins.

Danny Ings, Southampton striker warming up

“I mean wow, what a forward line that would be. There is a lot of goal threats in there,” he added. “Ings is great playing in two. Watkins can do a lot of the link up play and then Ings can play on the shoulder.

“Considering they have signed Young as well, perhaps they will go for a 3-5-2 with Buendia behind them.”

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