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'He wasn't happy' - Conor Hourihane proves his worth with standout display

The Irish star has been in and out of the club’s starting XI this season.

Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane celebrates their victory.
Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane celebrates their victory.
Image: Rui Vieira

ASTON VILLA BOSS Dean Smith has admitted Conor Hourihane “wasn’t happy” about his recent absence from the club’s starting XI.

The Cork native was a key figure in his side’s 2-0 victory at home to Newcastle in last night’s Premier League clash, contributing a goal and an assist.

The 28-year-old has not been an automatic starter for Villa this season, despite registering five goals in all competitions, making him the club’s top scorer.

Hourihane has started just five of his side’s 13 Premier League games this season amid an indifferent start, though last night’s win brought them up to 15th in the table.

In addition to contributing to key moments, the Irish international had a fine all-round display, as 42 out of his 43 passes were successful.

And speaking to reporters last night, Smith said: “He’s answered me back in the best way.”

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The coach added that Hourihane had been particularly annoyed at being left out of last month’s match against Manchester City.

“He’s got a goal threat. He wasn’t happy when I left him out of the side at Manchester City away. I understand why but it’s a squad game and he understands that I have decisions to make. I knew we’d spend a lot of that game (Man City) defending but, with this game, I knew we’d have a lot of the ball. He’s answered me back in the best way, his last three starts he’s scored three goals: Norwich, scored against Brighton which was wrongfully ruled out and scored again today. I’m really pleased for him.” 

On the impressive individual display, Hourihane himself said: “[Set pieces are] a main strength of my game I suppose, and every opportunity that comes along, I try to take it.”

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Paul Fennessy

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