Dean Smith says Aston Villa are 'getting closer' in striker search
Villa boss also defends Danny Drinkwater's display against Manchester City
By Michael Hincks
Last Updated: 16/01/20 2:43pm
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith says the club are "getting closer" in their search for a new striker, adding he wants two additions this January.
With Wesley out for the rest of the season, Villa have made signing a new forward their top priority during the transfer window.
The club played without a recognised striker in the 6-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday, a result that leaves Villa 18th in the Premier League table ahead of Saturday's trip to Brighton.
Smith would not be drawn on names when asked if Villa were closing in on a deal for Genk striker Ally Samatta or a loan move for Leicester's Islam Slimani, but confirmed they are "working hard" to bring a forward in for Saturday.
"As I always say I will never name-check any players. Everybody knows we've been looking for forwards, we're making progress," said Smith.
"Suso (Villa sporting director Jesus García Pitarch) is working very hard every day. Whether we'll have one in for Saturday I'm not so sure yet. We're getting closer.
"The powers that be are working very hard so we can get a centre-forward on the pitch.
"I'm calm and confident that we'll get players in. That's for sure. We've got big games coming, if we don't get one in by Saturday it will be the third game in a row without a recognised striker.
"We have to make sure we do the best without that but hoping we can get one through.
"Pretty much strikers because there's a necessity there. With Wesley getting injured and Keinan (Davis) being out it's an area we need to strengthen massively. We're looking for a couple."
Smith added that Villa's search has become tougher because other clubs are aware of their predicament up front.
"It's even harder when you haven't got a recognised striker because clubs can see you want one and stick prices up a little bit," Smith said.
"It's always a tough window. You have to take a couple of risks at times. We did last season with Tyrone Mings, and clubs will do that again.
"It would be a big boost to the squad when we eventually get one [a striker] in. We're working hard to do that."
'How else will Drinkwater get match fit?'
Danny Drinkwater made his Aston Villa debut against City after joining on loan from Chelsea.
The midfielder faced criticism for his display, but Smith leapt to the player's defence given he had only played two games all season before moving to Villa Park.
"He trained a full week before. I believe there were questions about playing him, but we've signed him to play football games, and how else will he get match fit if he doesn't play?" Smith said.
"Obviously it didn't go the way he wanted it, simply because of the result from our players, not just Danny Drinkwater.
"I like what he brings. I've seen it on the training ground and dressing room, and it will get better."
Smith also said that new loan signing Pepe Reina could "possibly" start in goal on Saturday.
"He has settled in fine which is what I would expect. Tom has been a big plus for us but unfortunately he got injured," Smith said.
"We're very fortunate to get someone so vastly experienced and has got the leadership qualities within the changing room as well.
"He will be a voice that we need. We're a young squad and our summer recruitment was players with potential. He can certainly help them fulfil his potential."
How to follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports
Sky Sports will bring you the very latest news from the January transfer market with the return of three shows.
Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday delivering analysis of the biggest stories. Then join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day's news with The Transfer Show.
Meanwhile, the Transfer Talk podcast will also be back at the turn of the year with more expert analysis from here and across the continent.
And as well as tuning into Sky Sports News, don't miss a thing with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.