English Premiership

Villa's 'marked' men must toughen up

2015-09-08 13:35
Tim Sherwood (Supplied)

London - Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood says the club's flair players such as Adama Traore, Jack Grealish and Carles Gil will become marked men because of their skills but wants them to handle the physical demands of the Premier League better.

Grealish, who recently returned from a hamstring injury, hurt his ankle during a training session, and record signing Traore picked up a calf injury in the League Cup match against Notts county.

Sherwood says his players are going to have to toughen up to avoid picking up injuries, but has also called on referees to give more protection to them.

"You can't cry about it. The boys certainly can't anyway. I can maybe cry about it and get them a bit more protection but the refs need to keep an eye out for that," the 46-year-old manager told the British media.

"We're not the only club with flair players around the Premier League. Sometimes the only way to stop them is to do it outside the laws of the game."

Sherwood said the focus of pre-season training sessions was on strength work and the new arrivals were quickly introduced to the rigours of the English league.

"Certainly when they're coming in from different leagues, this is the most physical league in the world so I think they need to get used to that body contact," the former Tottenham Hotspur manager said.

Meanwhile, deadline day signing Joleon Lescott says he is confident team captain Micah Richards can regain his England spot.

"He can get back into that England squad, absolutely no doubt," the 33-year-old, who played with Richards during their time with Manchester City, told the club website.

"There's a lot of talent there in the group. But if Micah Richards is fit, he has to be involved.

"There's a lot of good players out there. But I don't see any players who do anything that Micah can't do," the former Everton defender added.

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