The Aston Villa summer signing began brightly at Villa Park but was out for a while due to a hernia op – Dean Smith confirmed he’s back to full fitness.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has issued a fitness update on Villa Park summer signing Jota before moving to reassure the midfielder that he is likely to get game time in the coming weeks (Birmingham Mail).

Jota joined the Villa Park outfit in the summer from Second City rivals Birmingham City for £4million (Transfermarkt) and, following a few substitute appearances, was given a first start for the club against Everton, where he impressed so much he was given a standing ovation when he came off.

His performances tailed off a little after that, before a hernia problem sadly halted his Premier League progress, with his last game coming in the League Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion in September.

Jota underwent surgery and has been working his way back to full fitness, with Smith announcing that he is in contention to make the squad for the Premier League meeting with Chelsea on Wednesday night.

“Jota came in and was unbelievable in pre-season, he was one of the first signings and had an unbelievable pre-season, set up that first goal against Everton as well for Wesley. He was really good in that game,” Smith is quoted by the Birmingham Mail as saying. “He’s had a lot of pain, which he had at Birmingham City previous, and then we found out it was a hernia so he had to have the operation.

“But he’s been back on the training ground for three or four weeks so he’s back to speed and pushing for a place. Jack’s playing in a more advanced role now, but I’ve got Trez, El Ghazi who’s injured now, and Jota so he will get pitch time. I know what a quality player he is because I’ve worked with him for quite a long time.”

Smith did however stress that any player who’s dropped out of contention for whatever reason must win his place back, adding: “I’m pleased with the progress but as any player who’s not playing in my squad will know, they’ve got to prove to me they’re better than the player who’s got the shirt at the moment.”

Chelsea, who were beaten at home by West Ham on Saturday, have not lost consecutive Premier League games at Stamford Bridge since November 2011, but Villa have earned just one point from their last 13 top-flight away fixtures against sides starting the day in the top four (BBC Sport).

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