Ross Barkley: Aston Villa boss Dean Smith expecting midfielder to be out for up to three weeks

Watch West Ham vs Aston Villa on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm; kick-off at 8pm; Dean Smith says Ross Barkley's absence 'will be a loss' because 'we've got nobody similar'

Ross Barkley has scored in both of his appearances for Aston Villa so far
Image: Ross Barkley has two goals and an assist for Aston Villa this season

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith says Ross Barkley's hamstring injury is not as bad as first feared, but the midfielder will be out for up to three weeks.

Barkley, who is on loan from Chelsea, came off injured just five minutes into last Saturday's 2-1 defeat at home to Brighton in the Premier League.

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While Barkley's injury is not expected to keep him sidelined for too long, Smith wants to be patient with the midfielder's return to action to prevent any further complications.

"Ross has got a hamstring injury. Obviously, he's a week into that already.

"I think it will be two to three weeks and we're very hopeful he'll be back soon. We're hopeful it's not as bad a hamstring (injury) as it could be, which is good news for us.

Ross Barkley goes off injured during Aston Villa's match against Brighton
Image: Barkley went off injured during Aston Villa's match against Brighton last Saturday

"We're not going to rush him and we're going to make sure he's fully fit because we don't want to lose him again."

Barkley has played a crucial role in Villa's impressive start to the Premier League season, registering a goal and an assist from midfield, with Smith's side currently seventh in the table after winning five of their opening eight games.

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Smith is aware that Barkley's absence will weaken his side but is confident his players will have enough quality to put on a good showing against West Ham on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton's win against Aston Villa in the Premier League

Smith, whose side have lost three of their last four league matches, added: "We signed Ross because he's a quality player and, if you have quality players come out of your team, it's going to affect you a little bit. Plus, we've got nobody similar to Ross in terms of how he plays. So it will be a loss.

"But, we won our first two games without Ross as well, so we certainly haven't lost sight of that."

Smith welcomes return of fans - despite Villa's tier 3 status

Premier League fans will be making their long-awaited return to matches next weekend after lockdown is eased on December 2, with clubs in tier 1 and 2 able to welcome a limited number of supporters back for games.

Villa, though, are in a tier 3 area meaning their fans will have to continue being patient before they can return.

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Smith is just glad to be seeing fans back and is not concerned about any potential advantage clubs in tier 1 and 2 areas could get from having a small home crowd.

Dean Smith believes Aston Villa have had a successful summer transfer window 0:53
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith says it is undoubtedly a good thing that fans will be allowed back into stadiums within tier two areas, and that limited spectators shouldn't give teams an advantage

"Is it going to make that much of a difference? I don't think so," said Smith.

"We're in tier 3, so no fans allowed until we actually move out of that tier. But the whole system is designed to get rid of the pandemic and bring it to an end so we have to trust the government and the science behind the idea.

"I'd like to see fans back, it's in small doses I know for some of these big stadia, but it will be nice to get some fans back.

"Is it an advantage? Possibly, but it's the world we are living in at the moment."

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