Dean Smith hints at Thomas Frank-style appointment at Aston Villa

Dean Smith has told how he’s close to appointing a new assistant manager with a new coach likely to be in the dugout for Villa’s match with Chelsea after the international break.

Smith has seen his trusted lieutenants John Terry and Richard O’Kelly depart this summer, the latter ending an almost decade-long working relationship with the head coach after their spells at Walsall, Brentford and Villa.

O’Kelly, 64, was due to have a short break from the game at the beginning of the summer but remained in place at Bodymoor Heath right up until the days leading up to Villa’s first game of the season against Watford.

As for Terry, he too is now enjoying some time off ahead of stepping up into management in the not too distant future.

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Back to matters at Villa and, last year, it was Smith who appointed Craig Shakespeare as his assistant knowing of Terry’s desire to one day move on.

Shakespeare, 57, soon became a hugely influential figure behind the scenes at Bodymoor Heath and, to most, was seen as Smith’s right-hand man with Terry and O’Kelly taking a back seat almost.

Smith has, of course, bolstered his back room staff this season with the addition of set piece specialist coach Austin MacPhee earlier this month with the Scot also continuing his duties with Northern Ireland.

MacPhee joined Villa after a spell with FC Midtjylland and, since his appointment, the 41-year-old has been alongside Smith, Sheakespeare and goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler in the dugout.

This week, though, manager Smith has provided the latest in terms of a new assistant and hinted at a Thomas Frank-style appointment after he made the Dane – formerly of Brondby – his assistant at Brentford back in December 2016.

“The recruitment process for an assistant is still ongoing,” Smith said. “Hopefully that can be concluded in the international period.”

When asked about whether to expect a European coach after his Frank appointment at Brentford, Smith replied: “Yeah, pretty much. When I was at Brentford with Richard O’Kelly, I wanted someone who would be different to myself and Richard. Someone who can add to what we knew anyway, and they will certainly be the criteria again.”

Elsewhere, Villa boss Smith was quizzed on what could be a big season for Brazilian gold medal winner Douglas Luiz.

He said: “It is a really big 12 months but it is also a big 12 months in terms of how we manage him. He hasn’t had a lot of rest over the last two years. We had a lockdown where he was unable to see any of his family. He was not able to travel home to Brazil.

“This year he has had World Cup qualifiers, Copa America and the Olympics. He is a young age still. But you can’t dampen the euphoria of winning an Olympic gold medal. He has been bouncing around the training ground since he has been back. He can play a big part in this club’s future.”

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