Dean Smith has challenged his Aston Villa players to take full advantage of Dwight Gayle’s absence when his side travel to West Brom on Tuesday.
Gayle was sent off during Villa’s 2-1 win in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final final at the weekend.
He put West Brom into the lead before Conor Hourihane’s equaliser and Tammy Abraham’s winning penalty.
Smith knows his side must not switch off despite West Brom’s weakened attack.
‘It’s a big loss for them, he’s a good player,’ Smith said of Gayle. ‘When he plays down the middle he’s one of them who can score 20 to 25 goals in a Championship season.
‘He’s a threat when you’ve got the ball, a great outlet for them and his work ethic was good, so he’ll be a big loss for them but they’ve got some quality players.’
West Brom had 31 per cent possession at Villa Park as caretaker manager Jimmy Shan adopted a defensive style. But Smith has told his players to expect a more attacking approach.
‘I’ll be amazed if they’re not different,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t expect a Hawthorns crowd to be happy with them sat behind the ball and to let us have a lot of possession. I expect a different game, that’s for sure.’
With Gayle missing, Shan will look to Jay Rodriguez to spearhead the frontline.
‘He [Gayle] is a massive player for us but Jay has been very productive and hasn’t played an awful lot of minutes this season in central areas,’ Shan added.
‘So it gives Jay the opportunity to get a more central role, and he can be a big threat from there.
‘We’ve got a big squad and a squad of high quality and the players play with a mentality that they’re waiting for their opportunity.’