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Aston Villa will be without Jack Grealish for a ninth successive Premier League match when they host West Brom but Wesley could make his long-awaited return this weekend.
The Brazil striker has been out since rupturing knee ligaments against Burnley in January 2020 but last week he played just over an hour for the Under-23 side.
In his press conference ahead of Sunday’s derby clash with the Baggies, Villa head coach Dean Smith said he will monitor Wesley with a view to including the 24-year-old in his matchday squad.
“We’re going to have a look at Wesley to see if he can be involved,” said Smith. “It’s been really tough. It’s as significant an injury as I’ve seen on a player, and it shows the strength of character for him to come back from it.
“During a pandemic, it’s been really tough as we haven’t been able to arrange the amount of games that we would normally get for someone recovering from an injury.
“We’ve had to improvise a little bit, but he’s certainly a willing lad and everyone will be pleased to see him back.”
As for Grealish, Villa’s captain remains sidelined with the shin problem that saw him withdrawn from training on February 18 on the eve of the home defeat to Leicester.
The 25-year-old watched the defeat to Manchester City from the stands at Villa Park in midweek and was spotted in conversation with England manager Gareth Southgate.
Smith revealed Grealish is set for another scan next week, saying: “There’s not really a timeline (on his injury) as such.
“He’s due to have a scan next week. Hopefully that clears it up and we go full board with training. We will be guided by the time and the medical practitioners.”
Villa will be looking to get back to winning ways against relegation-threatened West Brom on Sunday following back-to-back defeats against City and Liverpool, and three losses in their last four Premier League matches.
Smith’s side have seen their challenge for European football fade away in recent weeks after just two victories in the last 10 games.
“This is only our second season back (in the Premier League) and we are still building to become a force again. Consistency is the key for us, moving forward,” said the Villa boss.
“We had the two play-off semi-finals with West Brom where the atmosphere was electric, so the fans will be missed but we all know what is at stake.
“We need to win the game, they need to win the game. Games are running out and they need to win them, so we know they will be coming to Villa Park looking for a win that can help them survive.
“They’re fighting for every point they can get, but so are we. We know it’s a derby. We’re looking forward to the game and we want to get back to winning ways ourselves.”