Aston Villa face Watford in our Premier League season opener on Saturday, and Dean Smith has delivered the latest team news and injury updates on his squad.
Villa will of course be hoping to make a positive start to the campaign just as we did last season, but pre-season this time round has been disrupted by injuries and cancelled friendlies.
That in turn may have led to disjointed preparations for the new Premier League campaign, but Smith was positive in his press conference on Friday as he delivered good news on the injury front.
As per the club’s official Twitter account, Smith confirmed that Ollie Watkins could still be involved at Vicarage Road if he is available to train pain-free on Friday, while Leon Bailey will join the rest of the group for training and will travel.
Perhaps the biggest boost though was that Emiliano Buendia is ‘good to go’ and is expected to be given the nod this weekend, with the Argentine emerging as a doubt having missed the last two pre-season games with a hip injury.
However, Smith confirmed that our summer signing has trained all week and will be available for selection, and so it’s hoped that he has built his fitness to a level where he will be able to start.
With a number of new signings and the blow of losing Jack Grealish to consider, it may well take Villa some time to settle and find our feet and our best form on the pitch.
In turn, a degree of patience will be needed in the coming weeks, but it’s hoped that if our first-choice starting XI is available sooner rather than later as injuries clear and fitness picks up, then we can start to put points on the board early and build towards trying to finish in the top six and qualify for Europe.
For now though, the focus is on Watford and getting three points to kick-start the new season.