Dean Smith says Aston Villa answered ‘question marks’ after 5-5 draw

Victory for Dean Smith’s Villa at Middlesbrough was their second 3-0 away win in as many matches

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is happy with his defence for responding well to the 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest.

The 17 goals Villa have shipped in 10 home games this season is the highest in the Championship – and they have been linked with a short-term deal to bring back former player James Collins.

But that statistic is distorted by five goals let in against Forest in what Smith insists was a “freak” scoreline.

“We’ve had four clean sheets in eight games so far,” he said.

“I’ve been happy with that. There were question marks last Wednesday night after the five goals by the back four and the goalkeeper.

“But Wednesday night was a freak. It’s very rare you’ll see five shots and five goals like that.”

Having shipped seven goals in two home games, having also conceded twice in the 4-2 derby win over Birmingham City, it has been a different story on the road.

Following Saturday’s victory over Tony Pulis’s Middlesbrough, Villa will go into Friday’s local derby at West Bromwich Albion on the back of successive 3-0 away wins at two of their expected main automatic promotion contenders.

“As a team we’re working hard and there’s a big spirit within the group,” Smith told BBC WM.

“I was told about the hard run coming up before the Derby County game, yet we’ve won three out of four and it should have been four out of four, as we should have beaten Forest.

“We won’t get too high when we win and we won’t get too low when we lose. There’s a togetherness and belief about us now.”

As to whether Collins might sign a contract, Smith confirmed that the 35-year-old Wales international Collins, originally signed by Martin O’Neill from West Ham in 2009, has been training with the club.

“We were down to bare bones at Middlesbrough,” Smith said.

“We’ve not got defensive cover with Alan Hutton being out suspended. Mile Jedinak had to come off the treatment table to give us cover on the bench.

“The younger guys are learning a lot from the likes of Mile and Glenn Whelan. They set the tone in training.”

Dean Smith was talking to BBC WM’s Mark Regan