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Villa boss Smith wants more evidence in five-sub row

London (AFP) – Aston Villa manager Dean Smith wants more evidence to prove players are at risk from serious injury before he supports the reintroduction of five substitutions in the Premier League.

Several Premier League bosses including Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola have criticised the decision to stop the five-sub rule being continued in England amid a hectic fixture schedule.

The option for more replacements during matches was brought following the coronavirus lockdown last season in a bid to prevent injuries.

All the other major European leagues and the Champions League now allow five subs, but the Premier League clubs voted to keep it at three.

Smith, who has seen Jack Grealish and John McGinn each play three times in a week for England and Scotland respectively, has not seen any negative impact on his players yet.

“We had a meeting yesterday and we spoke at length about each manager’s individual feelings,” Smith said on Thursday.

“I can only go from my football club, and if player welfare becomes an issue then it’s a no-brainer and you have to increase substitutions or look at the fixture scheduling.

“At the moment, I’m not seeing any trends from my players that suggest player welfare is an issue.

“I speak to my players all the time. I want the best for them and I want to look after them. That’s what we’re doing.”

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