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Wednesday 22 January 2020

Smith sees 'hunger' in Drinkwater to succeed

Danny Drinkwater. Photo: PA Wire
Danny Drinkwater. Photo: PA Wire

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has hailed the hunger in the eyes of Danny Drinkwater as a key reason behind the midfielder's loan capture until the end of the season

The long-term absence of John McGinn, who is not expected to return to action until late March after fracturing his left ankle just before Christmas, forced Smith's hand to sign a replacement in the mould of the all-action Scotland international.

Although Drinkwater's career has stalled since a £35million move to Chelsea in the summer of 2017, Smith has no doubt the 29-year-old can recapture the form that helped Leicester win the Premier League title that year, and led to the big-money switch to Stamford Bridge.

"Everybody knows about him from his Premier League-winning season with Leicester," said Smith. "He got the move to Chelsea and it probably didn't work out the way he would have liked.

"Then he had a loan move to Burnley this season and he probably hasn't played as many games as he would have liked, but from meeting him I liked the hunger - I saw it in his eyes. He has a lot to prove now. We're going to give him an environment where he can flourish and he looks really hungry."

Smith is adamant he does not see Drinkwater's arrival as a gamble, notably after an incident at Manchester nightclub in September which resulted in him being sidelined for a spell after suffering ankle ligament damage. He added: "I see it as a top quality signing of a top player in this league."

Drinkwater's first game will be in the Premier League at home to Manchester City on Sunday as he is cup tied..

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