James Chester and Jack Grealish missed Aston Villa’s goalless draw against Reading on Saturday.

Dean Smith has provided positive feedback on injured Aston Villa duo James Chester and Jack Grealish following his side’s goalless draw [BBC Sport] against Reading on Saturday.

Both players missed the encounter, with Smith confirming that playmaker Grealish had a scan on Saturday and is ‘running now’ following a number of games on the sidelines. 

Villa’s key man has not featured for his side since their 2-2 draw at rivals West Brom in December, with the Midlands outfit picking up only two wins since his absence. 

Nonetheless, ahead of the visit of third-placed Sheffield United next Friday night, Smith provided a positive response to the injured duo’s current state. 

“He [Chester] has been in and out of the training ground because his knee kept swelling,” Smith told BBC WM Sport. “I felt it affected his performances a little. He needed to have a little bit of a break and he will come back in on Tuesday. 

“I think he’s [Grealish] had a scan today [Saturday], so we will have an idea [about where he is]. He is running now. He has shown no signs of anything, so hopefully, we can get him back as soon as possible.”

In Chester’s absence against Reading, new signing Tyrone Mings and the experienced Tommy Elphick played at the heart of the club’s defence as Villa secured a valuable clean sheet on the road.

In the middle of the park, Conor Hourihane has deputised in a more advanced role alongside John McGinn, with Glenn Whelan and Birkir Bjarnason playing in the number six role in recent weeks.

At this moment in time, Villa are four points behind sixth-placed Bristol City in the table, with a number of clubs in front of them having a game in hand.

Smith and his team will now be preparing for the visit of free-scoring Sheffield United next Friday before he takes on his former club Brentford five days later. 

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