Aston Villa face a difficult trip to Southampton on Saturday as we look to continue our impressive start under Unai Emery in the Premier League.
Villa have won four of six league games since the Spanish tactician took charge, and so subsequently we’ve started to climb the table and move in the right direction with our performances and results after a poor start to the season.
However, Emery has stressed that he is focused on improvement and consistency, and with Southampton buoyed by their recent results, he will be fully aware of how tricky a challenge this weekend will be.
There was mostly positive news on the injury front for Villa this week, and so we should hopefully continue to move towards getting a full strength squad available, giving Emery all-important options and different profiles to help us continue to get the desired results.
Double injury boost from Cash, Watkins
While Emiliano Martinez will continue between the posts, the Villa boss does have one key decision to make in defence this weekend as Matty Cash is available.
As per Emery in his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Cash is back after recovering from the injury he sustained in our FA Cup defeat to Stevenage, and so there will be a decision over whether or not to bring him back into the Villa XI or stick with Ashley Young, who has done an excellent job while stepping in at right-back.
Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Alex Moreno are expected to complete the backline, as Emery also confirmed that Lucas Digne is ruled out through injury for this one. Although Ludwig Augustinsson has recovered from his own setback, Moreno impressed in his debut last time out and so undoubtedly deserves to get the nod.
That could potentially influence the decision at right-back too, as with the Spaniard given licence to get forward and attack down the left flank, Villa might arguably be better off using Young on the opposite side to provide defensive solidity and tactical nous to play that role as he sits back and tucks inside to provide cover.
Moving into midfield, Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz will continue in the heart of the side, with Jacob Ramsey likely to be deployed down the left side and Leon Bailey on the right.
That will see Emiliano Buendia play in a more advanced role as he looks to make it three goals in his last four league outings, while Emery also confirmed in perhaps the biggest fitness boost of the week that Ollie Watkins is also available after recovering from the issue that forced him off in the first half against Leeds Utd last Friday night.
That particular update became all the more important after Emery confirmed that Danny Ings is set to move on to join West Ham this week, as per the report above, and so Watkins will have a fundamental role to play moving forward given the lack of alternative options in that department, with incoming signing Jhon Duran unavailable.