Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has been hit with unfortunate bad luck in terms of injury and fitness blows to start the season, but he’ll hope for more positive news this week.
Villa took four points from our opening three games of the Premier League campaign, and given the expectation going into those encounters, it was arguably an under par return.
That said, we must also take into consideration the impact of the injury and fitness blows that we suffered over the course of those three weeks, and even dating further back than that during our disrupted pre-season schedule.
It has been a far from ideal month or so for Smith and the Villa squad, as we’ve seen injuries, a lack of fitness and Covid all prove to be problematic, and with a difficult schedule ahead in the upcoming month, it’s hoped that we get back to as close as possible to a fully fit squad.
Konsa, Mings to solidify defence
Tyrone Mings missed the draw with Brentford prior to the international break due to a cracked rib, while Ezri Konsa, our stand-in captain for that game, was forced off with a knee issue.
Given the former returned to feature for England this week, it’s expected that he’ll be back at Smith’s disposal for Saturday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, but it remains unclear at this stage as whether or not Konsa will be available.
Smith was upbeat when providing an update after the game as he disclosed that Konsa was walking and looked to be fine, but time will tell whether or not he’s given the green light to start against Chelsea.
McGinn, Sanson, Traore, Bailey and Ramsey all hope to be back
Similarly to Mings, John McGinn was in action this week for his country and so having completed his stint of isolation along with Jacob Ramsey, those two will be back in the squad for the trip to west London.
Morgan Sanson got 45 minutes in his legs for the U23s against Wycombe last week, and it’s hoped that is a significant step forward for the Frenchman as he looks to get fully match fit and start challenging for a spot in the XI.
Leon Bailey missed both the Newcastle Utd and Brentford games with a hamstring problem, but Smith insisted that he would be back after the break, as should Bertrand Traore who has also been absent since the defeat to Watford due to injury.
Time will tell how many of this group are named in the starting line-up this weekend, but they will all hopefully be back in the squad at the very least based on what the Villa boss has said publicly.
Watkins set to provide major boost
While Danny Ings will be delighted with his start to the season having scored two goals in his first three games for Villa, we’ve been missing the presence of Ollie Watkins up top.
Not only his pace, movement and threat in the final third from an attacking perspective, but also his defensive work and pressing from the front to set the tone for the entire side.
Having come on against Brentford in the latter stages, it’s hoped that he’s now in a position to compete for a starting berth, and his availability will undoubtedly be crucial for us in some difficult games in the coming weeks.