Smith's hope for Buendia reception party

Emi Buendia makes his first return to Norwich City with Aston Villa

Emi Buendia makes his first return to Norwich City with Aston Villa - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Respect Emi Buendia but then roar Norwich City to a win against Aston Villa sounds the perfect scenario for Dean Smith. 

The City chief is not the only one set for a reunion in Tuesday’s Premier League tussle at Carrow Road against his former club. 

The Canaries’ reigning player-of-the-year and double title winner makes his first return since a club record £33m summer move. 

“I think Emi should get the reception he deserves,” said Smith. “I looked at Jack Grealish going back to Aston Villa recently, and he should have got a better reception for what he gave to that football club, coming through the academy.

"I would have expected all four sides of the stadium to stand up and clap him.

"Our supporters can be appreciative of what Emi did here but he's moved on to another club.

"During the game by all means they can have a little jab every now and again, but after the game show him the respect that he deserves.

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"He left here for a lot of money having done very well and that's how football works sometimes. 

"The football club have used the money wisely and as a self sufficient club it was something they could not turn down. 

“It was enjoyable working with Emi. A really good lad, top player and a fiery character as well, especially in training.

"I signed him for a reason because we knew he can compete at the top level in this league, and the Norwich supporters know his qualities only too well.”  

Buendia has struggled to nail down a starting spot at Villa Park after being unveiled as one of the players to replace talisman Jack Grealish following his £100m transfer to Manchester City. 

“I said right from the outset when he came in at Villa that he is not the new Jack Grealish,” said Smith. “He was a new signing. They don't play similar styles. They're very different players.

"Emi had a troubled start in terms of getting injured and then going away with the national team and having to come back and isolate for 10 days in Croatia, so it was a real stop start period for him, but it looks like he's getting closer to where all the Norwich City supporters have seen him.

"Hopefully he can wait one more game. 

"He had a tough start. Funnily enough, I was actually off myself for 10 days with Covid so never got to work with him for the first 10 days but he started the pre-season games really well and then got injured just before the season started, which hindered him, and then obviously got called up for the internationals but missed a game when he had to isolate in Croatia. 

“But the qualities that he has will hold him in good stead."