EPL

Bailey back in Villa squad to face Arsenal - but coach insists team will take cautious approach with player

By Sports Desk October 21, 2021

Jamaica international Leon Bailey has been confirmed to be in contention to feature in the Aston Villa line-up against Arsenal on Friday, having returned to full training earlier this week.

Clarets boss Dean Smith has, however, insisted that the team will be cautious with the winger based on the fact that he was out of action for several weeks. 

Bailey, who moved to Villa Park on a transfer from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen this summer, had an impressive cameo for the club against Everton a few weeks ago, setting up one goal and scoring another.  The player was, however, forced to leave the field soon after scoring with a thigh injury.  Smith has revealed that the speedy winger has since recovered.

"Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore have both trained over the last couple of days and both will be available for the squad down at Arsenal,” Smith said in the team’s pre-match interview.

"But we have to be aware that Bailey's had a thigh injury for four weeks so we have to assess how much of a risk we take with him,” he added.

“We are building up their fitness, they will be in the squad, but we’ll have to assess where they are. They have both been out injured for a few weeks, so they are lacking minutes.”

The injury also caused Bailey to miss his national team’s previous round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Related items

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic dedicates Milan's Scudetto to Raiola as Swedish star defies doubters Zlatan Ibrahimovic dedicates Milan's Scudetto to Raiola as Swedish star defies doubters

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic declared his Milan mission accomplished as the Rossoneri were crowned Serie A champions for the first time in 11 years – but the veteran has not ruled out playing for another season.

    The 40-year-old Swedish striker embarked on the second spell of his career with Milan in December 2019, and said that was at the behest of his long-time agent Mino Raiola, who died in late April.

    Ibrahimovic dedicated his title success with Milan to Raiola, who he said had backed him to lift Milan from the doldrums.

    The former Juventus and Inter player's impact at San Siro has been remarkable, with a glut of goals early on serving to lift spirits at the club and set the tone for the success that has followed.

    Last season, Ibrahimovic scored 16 goals in 26 games as Milan finished second in Serie A, while this term he has also featured 26 times, albeit starting only 12 games and netting eight times.

    The returns have been diminishing and injuries have been a problem, with knee and Achilles trouble disrupting his season this time around, but Ibrahimovic's effervescence continues to be infectious as he proves a positive dressing-room presence.

    "When I got back here, I remember a journalist at a press conference saying that usually those who go back to where they have been can do only worse," Ibrahimovic told DAZN after the title-clinching 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

    "I replied that I would fight to get the club back up and to win the Scudetto. Nobody believed it, but we are here, we have worked hard and made many sacrifices, proving that thanks to work nothing is impossible."

    Ibrahimovic was Milan's main man when they won the 2010-11 Serie A title, having previously been a table-topper in Italy with Juve and Inter. He has since starred for Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and LA Galaxy, where it was widely assumed he was winding down his career, albeit with a glut of goals. The return to Milan has proved otherwise in that regard.

    He recognised his playing efforts this year had been less influential than in the past two campaigns, and his contract is due to expire next month.

    "But I think I have been useful to this group off the pitch," he added.

    Milan collected gained 86 points in Serie A this season, and only in 2005-06 (88 points) have they managed more in the era of three points for a win.

    Speaking about Raiola, Ibrahimovic said: "The dedication is to Mino Raiola. This is the first trophy I have won without him.

    "When I returned to Europe, I was close to Napoli, and then I asked him where I could go to make a difference and he replied that only I could save Milan."

    Ibrahimovic puffed on a cigar and celebrated with champagne after Milan secured the Scudetto. If that suggested a sense of finality, Ibrahimovic seemingly did not intend it that way.

    He will have his body checked out now the season is over, and said: "If I'm fine, this wasn't my last match. I'll consider whether to have surgery."

  • Cagliari suffer Serie A relegation as Salernitana survive for first time despite Udinese thrashing Cagliari suffer Serie A relegation as Salernitana survive for first time despite Udinese thrashing

    Cagliari were relegated from Serie A after only managing a draw against Venezia as Salernitana retained their top-flight status despite being thrashed by Udinese.

    Salernitana looked in serious danger of going down when Davide Nicola took charge in February, sitting bottom of the table with three wins from 23 games.

    Nicola inspired a resurgence, though, with his side picking up 15 points in a run of seven league games to head into the final matchday two points clear of Cagliari.

    However, Udinese were rampant as Gerard Deulofeu, Ilija Nestorovski and Iyenoma Destiny Udogie put Nicola's side 3-0 down before half-time on Sunday.

    Udinese captain Roberto Pereyra added a fourth after the interval as the Friulians achieved their best Serie A points haul (47) since the 2012-13 season (66).

    That meant Cagliari would have stayed up with a win at already-relegated Venezia, but Alessandro Agostini's could only muster a draw as the Rossoblu were relegated to Serie B for the sixth time in their history.

    Cagliari's failure handed Salernitana their first-ever Serie A survival, having failed to do so on their other two attempts in 1947-48 and 1998-99.

    Salernitana also became the first team to stay up despite conceding at least 78 goals in a single top-flight campaign after Livorno (79 in 1929-30) and Lucchese (82 in 1947-48, 79 in 1949-50).

    Meanwhile, Cagliari join Venezia and Genoa in Serie B and the trio will aim to bounce straight back up next season.

  • Neville and Keane left furious after spate of pitch-invasion violence Neville and Keane left furious after spate of pitch-invasion violence

    The increasing violence amid pitch invasions in English football is of great concern to Gary Neville and Roy Keane, who called the culprits "idiots, scumbags" and a "disgrace".

    City won the Premier League – their fourth title in the last five campaigns under Pep Guardiola – in dramatic fashion on the final day of the season on Sunday, coming from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium.

    However, as has been the case at several grounds across the country in recent weeks, City's win sparked scenes of fans charging onto the pitch at full-time.

    While the majority of the supporters celebrated peacefully, some fans were seen to have approached Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen, who had to be escorted off the pitch by stewards.

    Steven Gerrard subsequently confirmed that his goalkeeper had been "attacked" while City released a statement apologising to Villa and Olsen, promising a full investigation.

    The incident follows on from a Nottingham Forest fan having been jailed for assaulting Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp at the end of a Championship play-off semi-final, while lower down the pyramid, Port Vale fans were involved in an altercation with Swindon Town players.

    On Thursday, Everton supporters ran onto the pitch to celebrate a 3-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace that secured their Premier League status.

    One fan appeared to aggravate Palace boss Patrick Vieira, who seemingly lashed out at the supporter.

    It is a situation that former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville is extremely worried by.

    "This brilliant last 20 years, or 30 years, where we've brought the fences down in English football and the fans are respected and 99 times out of 100 they don't run onto the pitch because they enjoy the family environment, far more children coming to the game, far more women coming to the game," Neville said on Sky Sports.

    "All of a sudden in this last few weeks, months, not just running on the pitch, which is a problem, but if you're attacking managers and players – what are you doing?

    "Running on the pitch, they've won the league, they're delirious, I get that, but attacking the opposition players on the pitch – where has this come from, why is happening?

    "I've got no idea, it's absolutely ridiculous."

    It was a sentiment echoed by Neville's former Manchested United team-mate Keane, who is concerned by what may come next.

    He said: "A player or a manager is going to be seriously injured. If you're mad enough to punch a player you're going to be mad enough to do something stupid like stab a player.

    "I think people have come back after COVID and forgot how to behave themselves. Idiots, scumbags, disgrace. Absolutely disgraceful."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.