Aston Villa v Derby County: Who would you pick in a combined XI? – BBC Sport

Aston Villa v Derby County: Who would you pick in a combined XI? - BBC Sport

Jack Grealish will cost a lot of money if Aston Villa lose play-off final, says Smith

Aston Villa meet Derby County on Monday at Wembley in the Championship play-off final, with the winner taking the last remaining place in next seasons Premier League.

Dean Smiths Villa side ran out comfortable winners in both league meetings this season by an aggregate score of 7-0.

A letter from HMRC had arrived at Villas offices, warning that the club would be wound up unless they paid a £4.2million tax bill, 24 hours before the most crucial game of the season.

But Derby had also lost all three games against Leeds by a combined 7-1 scoreline before winning 4-2 at Elland Road in the second leg of their semi-final to book their place at Wembley.

A compromise was frantically agreed with HMRC, yet the dire cash-flow issues of Dr Tony Xia remained. The future of one of English footballs founder members was uncertain, perhaps…

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The stakes are high but if you could select from the Villa and Rams players who are available for Mondays showdown, who would make your combined XI?

Select your combined XI from the Championship play-off finalists Aston Villa and Derby County and share with your friends.

Then I will sit down and think about what I am going to do. I dont want to try put the focus on me and kind of confuse myself. I know how my body feels, I know what I can bring or what I cant bring anymore.

• Villa captain signed new five-year deal in September• Manager says Wembley defeat would not create financial issues

He also played in the next round, a 2-1 home loss to Leicester, and made nine League One appearances for Yeovil on loan that season but joined Paul Lambert at Aston Villa in 2013, having been overlooked totally by Chris Hughton during 2012-13, making just four loan appearances for Cambridge in the National League.

Tottenham are likely to revive their interest in Grealish if Villa fail to seal a return to the Premier League at Wembley on Monday. But Smith pointed out his captain signed a new five-year deal in September and warned potential buyers it would take a sizeable bid to prise the midfielder from Villa Park.

Read more Hes signed a brand-new contract at the start of the season, committing himself to the football club, Villas manager said. He loves Aston Villa and hell want nothing more than to get promoted with Aston Villa. If we dont go up hell cost someone a hell of a lot of money if they want to buy him. He is committed to Aston Villa and weve not even spoken about it otherwise.

Smith will find it significantly easier to keep Grealish if he masterminds victory over Derby, given estimates that the final will be worth £170m to the winners. However, while Villa will no longer be entitled to parachute payments if they are still a Championship club next season, Smith is confident there will not be a repeat of the financial problems that followed defeat in last years final by Fulham.

Grealish, at least, had other ideas. Hes since spoken of his steely determination in the gym as he put everything he had into returning to the first team a stronger more influential player than before. Apparently, this didnt go unnoticed by his manager either, with Dean Smith selecting him as his new captain ahead of his return at home to Derby County. As if it were written in the stars above, with Grealish back pulling the strings, Villa were instantly brimming with confidence all over the pitch and demonstrating the kind of invention on the ball that was sadly lacking during the marked decline of the club since Martin ONeills departure some 10 seasons ago. Jacks maestro performance was capped with a stunning volley and culminated with his 65-minute substitution to rapturous applause from the home fans. And why not – the game was already won 4-0 and it seemed for all the world like Grealish hadnt even moved out of 2nd gear.

Manager warns Spurs target will cost a hell of a lot of money

Villa faced an uncertain future after a tax bill in the region of £4m went unpaid, only for their money problems to ease when Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens bought majority control from Tony Xia last summer.

Financial fair play regulations state Championship clubs are not permitted to lose more than £39m over a three-season period, but Smith believes a club of Villas size have to think ambitiously.

With the youth in the team and the more experienced boys, that is what we have got. We have the chance that we know if we do go behind, we have the ability to bring it back and if we do go ahead. We have the quality to carry it on.

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The potential is massive, he said. We all know the financial turmoil the club was in but weve got new owners who have got big ambitions, not just for the first team but for the academy as well. The restrictions that come with the EFL make it tougher but if youre in the Premier League the potential for this club is great.

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Read more You have to prepare for winning or losing. One way or another, on Monday night we will either be a Premier League team or a Championship team and you have to have two scenarios for it. But the difference this year is that the owners are fully behind the club and its on an even keel and hopefully moving in an upwards direction.

The Blues are in the midst of a wrangle regarding a transfer ban, and reports now suggest they may accept a ban this summer in hopes that theyll be able to add to their squad in January via a reduction of the sentence, which covers two windows.

Smith said there will not be added pressure on Grealish, a boyhood Villa fan and the teams talisman, to play well against Derby. That is something right from the off we have played down, the former Brentford manager said. It is not about one person or pressure, it is about the team. If players perform as a team you have more chance. It is not down to Jack Grealish. Yes, Jack Grealish has got that little bit of brilliance but so has John McGinn and Tammy Abraham, [Anwar] El Ghazi and Tyrone Mings.

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We wont put any pressure on any individual and talking to Jack he doesnt feel that either. He has relished being the captain of Aston Villa and is looking forward to the game and hopefully getting that win.

Grealish was heavily linked with a move to Spurs last summer with Daniel Levy delaying a £25million offer until the final week of the transfer window only for the Villa Park outfit to see a change in owner, with Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens deciding to reject the bid (Birmingham Mail).

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