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Stoke City midfielder Ryan Woods

Aston Villa boss Smith hails Stoke midfielder Woods

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has heaped praise on Stoke City midfielder Ryan Woods.

The 25-year-old played under Smith during their time together at Brentford, and ahead of the meeting between the two sides at Villa Park on Saturday, Aston Villa boss Smith was full of praise for his former player.

“I sold him for £6m and he is a great kid,” Smith said at his pre-match press conference.

“He has improved as a footballer.

“I know whenever I brought Brentford to Villa, supporters were waxing lyrical over him.

“He makes a game tick, he can switch play and keep the ball moving.”

Villa head into the fixture with Gary Rowett’s Stoke side looking to continue their recent good form, the Midlands side are unbeaten in their past six league fixtures and sit just four points outside playoffs.

After a difficult start to the season following relegation last season, Stoke are currently enjoying their own eight-game unbeaten run and have risen to 10th place in the Championship table.