Aston Villa boss Smith raves about United loanee Axel Tuanzebe

Manchester United will be looking to recover from their EFL Cup exit when they face Aston Villa tomorrow.

Villa were also knocked out of the competition on Wednesday night after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Chelsea.

United loanee Axel Tuanzebe played all 90 minutes of that match and earned rave reviews from some Villa fans on Twitter for his performance.

James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

And Villa manager Dean Smith was also full of praise for the centre-half ahead of the trip to Old Trafford.


At his pre-match press conference, he said: “He’s a fantastic player, that’s why we wanted him. On top of that, he’s got an unbelievable attitude and application to the game.

“His character within the dressing room – for me, there’s a future captain in there for whichever club he’s at. He’ll go back to Manchester United at the end of the season.

“He’s a wonderful character and his game is getting better and better. He’s done exceptionally well since he’s come into the team.”

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Can Tuanzebe play against United?

Tuanzebe is ineligible to play against United, due to the terms of his loan and Smith said: “He’ll be a big loss but we have to decide whether to go to a back four or stick with a five.”

Tuanzebe will be missed by a Villa side who will also be without Morgan Sanson and Leon Bailey at Old Trafford.

Given he slipped down the pecking order at United after the arrival of Raphael Varane, it made sense for Tuanzebe to get out on loan for regular Premier League appearances.

Smith has already said there that he will return to United in the summer before a decision on his next move is made.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.