Dean Smith admits Aston Villa’s flying start to the season has exceeded their expectations, but insists their “feet are firmly on the ground”.

Villa lie second in the Premier League with 12 points and a 100 per cent record, the first time since 1930-31 they have won their opening four league matches of a campaign.

A 1-0 win over Sheffield United and 3-0 victory at Fulham was followed by a remarkable 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool and then Sunday’s 1-0 triumph at Leicester.

Boss Smith, whose side finished one place and one point above the relegation zone last term, told a press conference: “We’ve certainly had a very good start.

“Sheffield United, Fulham and ourselves would have looked at those opening two games and saw an opportunity to pick up points.

“We managed to win both of them and then you go into Liverpool and Leicester, who are both top five teams.

“They were really tough games and to come through those with maximum points certainly exceeds expectations.

“Our feet are firmly on the ground because, if you’re off it at any stage in the league, you can get a bloody nose very quickly.”

Among the players to have shone for Villa during their excellent start is on-loan Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley, who marked his debut with a goal in the Liverpool match before netting the winner against Leicester.

Smith said of the 26-year-old: “He’s made a big impact.

“The fact that we’ve gone out and managed to entice that calibre of player into the squad has certainly gone down well in the dressing room and with our staff and fans as well.

“He’s a top player, who has been in and amongst the Champions League for the last two or three years of his career. He’s been a regular starter for England too.

“He’s not played the amount of minutes he’s wanted to (at Chelsea), and we’ve managed to get him to Aston Villa.

“His job now is to produce performances for Aston Villa that take the eye of Gareth Southgate and get him back into the England squad.”

Forward Keinan Davis is expected to be available for the clash with Leeds after missing the Leicester match due to a calf problem. Kortney Hause, Wesley and Tom Heaton remain sidelined.

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