Latest from Aston Villa: ‘vulnerable’ verdict delivered amid large Bodymoor Heath claim

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Aston Villa’s defensive vulnerability has raised doubts over head coach Dean Smith’s claims that confidence reigns behind the scenes, according to Express & Star reporter Luke Hatfield.

Villa travel to Southampton tomorrow after suffering four straight defeats, leaving them just three points out of the Premier League relegation zone.

What’s the latest news from Smith and Villa?

Despite Villa’s loss of form, Smith said there was a “great belief” in the Bodymoor Heath training ground.

Smith also insisted he remained confident in his team’s ability to bounce back after a hugely disappointing October which saw Villa fail to register a single point.

While Smith doesn’t want to be discouraged, his job is believed to be in jeopardy and Telegraph reporter John Percy has claimed Smith faces a fight to show he can move the club forward.

Reports suggest the Villa owners are already preparing for life without Smith at the helm and have made informal contacts with Paulo Fonseca over a possible appointment as the 50-year-old successor.

This led to further doubts about Smith, who moved into the hotseat three years ago, having a long-term future at Villa Park.

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What did Luke Hatfield say about the situation?

Hatfield was surprised at Smith’s comments about the confidence within the Villa camp.

The reporter is shocked at the ease with which the Villans shy away from goals, with only Norwich City and Newcastle United – who are in the relegation zone – conceding more since the start of the season.

It comes after Villa conceded just 46 goals in the entirety of last season.

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When asked what he thought of Smith’s claims, Hatfield told GIVEMESPORT: “Would I agree with what I see on the pitch? Maybe not.

“Some players have visibly lost some faith. There’s a bottom line there that was so strong last season but now looks very vulnerable.”

Is Smith capable of improving Villa defensively?

Smith was backed to the tune of £ 93million during the summer transfer window, but Villa didn’t spend a dime on a defender.

The only backline reinforcements were Ashley Young and Axel Tuanzebe, who respectively joined for free and a one-season loan deal.

Smith has used a plethora of formations since the campaign began in August, going for a three-way defense and a flat-back four.

Villa fans reacted badly to Smith’s decision to remove club captain Tyrone Mings from the starting lineup against West Ham United last weekend.

Smith’s hopes of keeping his clean sheet at Southampton tomorrow have not been helped by the fact that he will be without center-half Ezri Konsa, who was sent off in the loss to West Ham.

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