Dean Smith has revealed fears for Aston Villa’s derby fixture against Wolves, as squad issues have been highlighted off the back of the international break.
Villa sit just two places above Midlands rivals Wolves in the Premier League, and may face their fixture with a weaker squad than usual.
Dean Smith’s side will be without Leon Bailey, who has “not ticked the right boxes” for the medical staff following an injury he sustained against Everton last month, Smith said via the Birmingham Mail.
Villa also face a race against time regarding the availability of Douglas Luiz and Emiliano Martinez. Both players are currently returning from international duty in South America, and may be unable to start.
“They’re in the air on the way back to the UK. They’ll both be in the squad for the game against Wolves tomorrow,” said Smith.
“I’ll speak to both of them when they land and again in the morning to see how they are before we take any decisions. I’m fully-expectant, speaking to them both before their games yesterday, that they’re ready to come back and be ready for selection which is pleasing for us.”
Bertrand Traore, who has played just 53 minutes in the Premier League this season is also likely unavailable. The winger picked up a knock while playing for Burkina Faso recently.
“He picked up a bit of a thigh injury which the medical staff are assessing at the moment. He didn’t train with us yesterday. I’m not sure if he’ll make it tomorrow, I’m waiting for the OK from the medical staff,” Smith said.
Seventeen-year-old Carney Chukwuemeka, who has featured three times for Villa this season could also be missing from the squad. The youngster missed out on England Under-19’s duty over the week due to a knock.
Villa, however, have been given a bonus as Morgan Sanson and Keinan Davis returned to training this week. Though neither are crucial members of the squad, their involvement on the bench could help with depth problems.
Villa man praised by major star
Though it is feared Martinez may be unable to start against Wolves, as he returns from international duty, his Argentina teammate had high praise for him.
That teammate was Lionel Messi, no less, and the Paris Saint Germain ace, who many regard as the greatest footballer on the planet, feels similarly about Martinez, in terms of goalkeeping ability.
“Dibu [Martinez] is fundamental,” said Messi.
“When they come to him, he always responds.
“He established himself in goal and we have one of the best goalkeepers in the world.”
Villa have certainly got an elite shot stopper, and will hope he is ok to start in their crucial game versus Wolves on Saturday.