Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood praises Jores Okore for playing through pain barrier against West Ham

The 22-year-old centre-back helped Villa to a 1-0 win on Saturday while dealing with a knee injury.

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has applauded centre-back Jores Okore for playing through Saturday’s 1-0 home win over West Ham United with a knee injury.

Sherwood was speaking to AVTV after the match, having seen Tom Cleverley’s first-half strike move his side four points above the Premier League’s relegation zone with two fixtures left.

With Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker lost to season-ending injuries last month, Okore partnered Ron Vlaar in the heart of the Villa defence for the third straight game and put in a superb performance, recording a match-leading eight clearances to help preserve the clean sheet.

It certainly didn’t look like the Denmark international was suffering with an ailment on the afternoon but Sherwood was quick to stress that he wouldn’t have otherwise been involved were it not for the lack of suitably fit replacements.

“The two centre-backs were excellent,” said Sherwood. “Jores is nursing a knee injury so I can’t express to the fans how much that boy is putting his body on the line for this football club.

“Defensively, the full-backs also did what they had to do, and they got forward to give us that width again.

“Shay was nice and calm behind them, so overall it was a good, professional performance.

“Two more wins will do now,” he added, despite the four-point gap. “Southampton’s the next game and we’ll go there to try to win.”

Villa now travel to the South Coast on Saturday looking to secure safety, before facing already-relegated Burnley on the final day ahead of the FA Cup final against Arsenal.

With Baker and Clark out and Philippe Senderos still not quite fit enough to start after six months out of first-team action with a calf problem, Sherwood will be hoping that Okore’s knee doesn’t give him any further problems during the run-in.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch