Dean Smith returns to Villa Park for the first time since leaving Aston Villa in November for Norwich City’s Premier League away trip on Saturday afternoon.
After three years in Birmingham, which included a successful promotion bid and an 11th-placed Premier League finish, Smith is poised to return to the ground he used to sweep clean as a boy where he will be greeted by a banner which reads: ‘One of our own. Thanks Deano.’
Here’s the XI the current Norwich boss may deploy to get one over on his former employers
Teemu Pukki has been Norwich’s top scorer in each of the past three seasons and is once again their chief goal-getter this term / Stephen Pond/GettyImages
Tim Krul (GK) – After a calamitous afternoon against Newcastle last weekend, Krul still had the confidence to call upon his teammates to ‘step it up’.
Sam Byram (RB) – With his injury woes a thing of the past, Byram has refreshingly played every available Premier League minute in April.
Grant Hanley (CB) – Norwich’s skipper missed December’s defeat to Villa, one of five games Hanley has failed to start this term as his side have lost four times without their captain.
Ben Gibson (CB) – The experiment of drafting in Christoph Zimmermann lasted less than an hour last weekend and may prompt Smith to turn back to the far-from-faultless Gibson.
Brandon Williams (LB) – After a spell on the sidelines with injury, Williams may make his first start since March this weekend.
Mathias Normann (CM) – The FC Rostov loanee played just four August games for his parent club before joining Norwich last summer yet won as many away games with the Russian side as he has in the Premier League (one).
Kenny McLean (CM) – The sturdy Scotland international has missed just one of the 25 matches Smith has overseen since swapping the Clarets for the Canaries.
Pierre Lees-Melou (AM) – The Frenchman scored the opening goal in Norwich’s only victory in their last 11 matches.
Kieran Dowell (RW) – 63% of Dowell’s shots for the season have come in the last two games, the only disappointment is that he’s converted just one of these five attempts.
Teemu Pukki (ST) – Norwich’s perennial top scorer has only netted three of his ten goals on the road this term.
Milot Rashica (LW) – Of any player to have actually scored a Premier League goal this season, only Manchester City‘s Joao Cancelo has a worse conversion rate than Rashica’s 2% (one goal from 41 attempts).
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