Aston Villa manager Dean Smith must start Emiliano Martinez for today’s Premier League game against Everton at Villa Park.
Along with Emi Buendia, the goalkeeper was involved in the mess which accompanied Argentina’s clash against Brazil a couple of weeks ago, when health officials ran onto the pitch in protest.
The duo have since spent the last ten days in Croatia in order to train, and Smith has now confirmed that while they will return to Villa Park on Saturday morning, a late call will be made on whether they will be involved against the Toffees in the 5:30pm kick-off.
The manager said: “We are expecting them to join us tomorrow (Saturday) morning and I’ll assess it then and decide if they’ll be involved or not.
“We have got their numbers of what they have been doing each day. That gets sent straight to the performance department and passed onto the coaches. They are in a good place physically which is what we need to know. I’ll assess that in the morning and wait until tomorrow.”
The Argentine netminder has been outstanding for Villa since joining from Arsenal back in the summer of 2020, keeping the third most clean sheets in the Premier League last season with 15.
Described as a “phenomenon” and someone who “guarantees ten points per season” by Argentine World Cup winner Daniel Bertoni, Martinez has been nothing short of outstanding for the Midlands club, so much so that he’s become a permanent part of his country’s squad at international level.
While Jed Steer hardly made a mistake in the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea last week, there is a reason why Martinez has been established as Villa’s number one goalkeeper.
While Smith will understandably have concerns over starting someone like Buendia given that he’s an outfield player and will be short of match fitness, as a goalkeeper Martinez should have no real worries at all.
The £31.5m-rated star simply has to start today against Everton, and could well be a game-changer for Villa as they hope to get back to winning ways.