Dean Smith warns Aston Villa players that this may be their only chance to play Premier League football

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Villa has failed to win since Project Restart and Smith’s problems are underscored by alarming statistics that his team have spent almost 14 hours without a goal from an attacking player.Their last championship victory took place on January 21 and, at this critical point, Villa’s hopes of a survival shootout on the last day in West Ham seem desperate.

After the victories of West Ham and Watford on Saturday, the visit to Palace is very firmly in “winning” territory for Smith. After this weekend, he will face Everton and Arsenal before this last day at London Stadium.

He said: “I think people said at the start of the season that it could go until the last day, these were the changes we had to make as a football club this summer.

“We were hoping to be a midfielder, but it didn’t turn out like that. We have had huge injuries to our key players who have not helped. We were also porous enough to concede goals.

“If this is the last game, too bad. But we have four games where we can go win and be competitive. If we win our first three, I hope we won’t have any more by then. ”

Villa’s struggles since returning from the lockout were illustrated by McGinn’s uneven performance.

The midfielder has often emerged as one of Villa’s match winners since arriving at Hibernian in 2018, but suffered a broken ankle in December.

The injury forced him to miss 14 games and Smith said his slow start could be the result of a second separate problem in March.

“Before the lockout, we had to play at Chelsea on Saturday [March 14]. John was fit to play and he was going to be on the bench, but earlier in the week he started to feel his shin, “said Smith.

“We sent him for an analysis and we found another stress fracture, which put him out of six weeks.

“He didn’t train during the lockout, but once we got back to the small group training, he was back. He played catch-up and it was very difficult. It may take a while to get back on track but it is definitely there to get there. now. “

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