Aston Villa start the new Premier League season away at Watford on Saturday, but it’s unclear if Ollie Watkins will be fit to feature at Vicarage Road.
The 25-year-old hobbled off in our final pre-season game against Salernitana on Sunday, with concerns that it would potentially rule him out of our season opener.
Naturally, the hope is that it was merely a precautionary move to protect him from any further damage, but Dean Smith has now provided an update on our frontman.
As per Sky Sports, Smith revealed that Watkins suffered some bone bruising in that game at the weekend, and that the club are ‘hopeful he’ll be fine’ to face Watford this Saturday.
After scoring 16 goals and providing five assists in 40 appearances across all competitions last season, combined with the work ethic that he brings at the top of the pitch for us to lead from the front defensively, it will be a blow to be without Watkins for the first game of the campaign.
In turn, it’s hoped that he will be given the nod against Watford, but the benefit of our summer recruitment drive is that we have now added depth and flexibility to our options in the final third, and so Ings could be given a pivotal role in his competitive debut for us.
There are also doubts over Emiliano Buendia given he missed the last two pre-season games with a hip problem which is said to be a minor concern, while Leon Bailey isn’t expected to feature having been self-isolating after arriving in the UK last week and so he has yet to train fully with the rest of the group.
Time will tell who is passed fit and made available for Smith, but with the likes of Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Carney Chukwuemeka and others impressing in pre-season along with the likes of Anwar El Ghazi and Ashley Young banking heavy minutes, he will have options at his disposal to put out a strong XI regardless.