Dean Smith admitted to BBC Sport that he has been ‘a little bit harsh’ on how he has treated Conor Hourihane after Aston Villa beat Wolves 1-0 on Saturday afternoon.
Before the game, Smith sprung a surprise by starting teenager academy product Jacob Ramsey ahead of Villa’s experienced left-footer, who dropped to the bench following the last outing at West Ham.
Ramsey impressed in the middle of the park, as he didn’t shy away from getting on the ball and he also worked the opposition hard without the ball.
Smith praised the attack-minded midfielder for the performance he produced in his first Premier League start and admitted that he has been ‘harsh’ on Hourihane in regards to his game time.
“He’s [Ramsey] a good player,” said Smith. “I had no qualms about putting him in. Probably a little bit harsh on Conor. He played okay at West Ham.
“But I just felt with his [Ramsey’s] legs, his energy and what he has shown in the last couple of weeks in training and what he has done in cup games this season that he could handle it. And he handled it.
“Yes, he does [want the ball]. He can handle the football. And that’s what I want from my players. But he’s got legs as well. Really good legs. He can go up and down the pitch. He can break into the opposition penalty box. And he can show composure like he did right at the end there.”
It could be argued that since Hourihane’s £2.5 million move to Villa Park in 2017 [Daily Star] that he has been an under-appreciated figure at the club.
In September, Hourihane scored and assisted as Villa beat Fulham 3-0. The amazing thing about that was the fact that the set-piece specialist wouldn’t play another minute of Premier League football until the end of November.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is a frustrated figure on the sidelines, but to the Irishman’s credit, he has put his head down and not moaned one bit.
In other news, Report: Bielsa wants AC Milan talent Tommaso Pobega at Leeds