Louie Barry involved and Grealish returns – What we have learned as training at Aston Villa intensifies


When Dean Smith places soccer balls and cones across Bodymoor Heath after months of absence – that can only mean one thing – full contact training is back on the menu for Aston Villa. After a few light exercises earlier this week – which BirminghamLive covered in full – the Villans camp has started to prepare for larger groups in order to prepare game plans for their return to the Premier League.

Last week’s Four and Five turned into big teams for a warm-up race, with Marvelous Nakamba, Mungo Bridge, Jack Grealish, Jota, Danny Drinkwater, Neil Taylor, Conour Hourihane, Kortney Hause, Mbwana Samatta, Louie Barry , Tyreik Wright and John McGinn starting the workout with running exercises before stretching – with Drinkwater applying vigorous effort.

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Next, smaller groups were organized for an intensified warm-up – with Hourihane, Davis, Matt Targett and Grealish stretching their muscles.

Ahmed Elmohamady and Anwar El Ghazi warmed up separately, watching Smith share a joke with Barry, Samatta and Hause, who accelerated the pace as they ran between the cones.

The addition of a number of new faces, including Barry, Wright and Bridge, follows Dean Smith’s previous plan to involve American Indiana Vassilev, who ultimately broke into the first team – suggesting a path to similar progression for the talented trio.

Following the last session, the reactions were tested during sprint exercises. The last time, a number of players were caught as Anwar El Ghazi rushed to the finish line after breaking a cry. This time the players were faster – Tyrone Mings and Borja Baston enjoying the chance to sprint as Jota, Grealish and Elmohamady broke the line.

Waves of sprints followed, with Vassilev, Drinkwater, Targett, Ezri Konsa and more lining up for their turn as the previous groups lined up behind them. For the most part, each player wasted no time in breaking the cry – an encouraging improvement for Smith.

The players then participated in faster passing drills, with Smith leading. Mings, Douglas Luiz, Grealish, Drinkwater and McGinn barely missed a beat when the head coach watched – before increasing the fire on his players.

After the early jokes, Smith roared at Hourihane as each player took individual laps in a race to a line and then received a pass from the head coach during a demanding exercise.

” Go for it! Go for it! Yes! Touch! Smith yelled before putting on a pass to the Irishman. The Villa gaffer then demanded a lap and finish from Hourihane, as well as a header from a second ball thrown towards him, before a third pass was dismissed for another arrival before the final sprint.

Smith then demanded the same of McGinn – who seemed closest to his training ground – and Nakamba.

It wasn’t going to be easier for the players, with Smith barking at Nakamba and Hourihane – preparing them to run against each other for a through ball played by Smith in another robust exercise.

“Come on Naka! Run Naka! Smith roared as Nakamba and Hourihane threw themselves towards the ball, the latter roughly beating the defensive midfield of the ball.

Hourihane’s desire for the ball shone once again as he faced Douglas Luiz in the same exercise, beating the Brazilian in the pass and clearing the ball from his feet.

As a result – match situation drills were held, the teams being separated from the larger group as Smith and John Terry watched two Villans teams compete in a match action that the players enjoyed.

Bridge looked confident to play in the back – while John McGinn was caught in the midfield by a creeping Keinan Davis before Orjan Nyland denied a goal. El Ghazi seemed particularly passionate about taking on others – looking impressive in a partnership with Davis.

However, it was his wing competitor Trezeguet who found the net, finishing a demanding session crossing Neil Taylor and Bridge before placing a shot in front of Pepe Reina.

The Villans didn’t seem to miss a beat in a demanding session – and although contact was allowed, the players wanted to focus on positioning, running, passing and their reactions outside the ball rather than putting pressure on the others .

Encouraging signs for Villa’s academy crossed the session as Bridge, Barry and Wright played key roles alongside Jack Clarke in Villa of the Day drills – with modern stars Davis and Grealish in full swing.

Overall, this was a big step forward for the team after their previous session, and efforts will only intensify as Villa now plans training matches against others before returning to the Premier League June 17 against Sheffield United.


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