Matt Maher has dropped a major Aston Villa update ahead of the start of the club’s pre-season, and it’s news that will have Dean Smith worried.
While EURO 2020 is understandably dominating the headlines, especially now that it has reached the quarter-final stages, many Premier League clubs will be seeing the start of their preparations for the new domestic season start very soon.
And according to The Express and Star’s, Maher, Villa will see players who are not currently on international duty report back to Bodymoor Heath next week, and that while a number of friendly matches have been arranged, some details of the Midlands club’s schedule are yet to be confirmed.
He added: “With the likes of Jack Grealish, Tyrone Mings, Douglas Luiz and Emiliano Martinez still involved in international duty, Villa’s numbers will be reduced during the early weeks of pre-season, with Smith ready to call up a number of the club’s talented under-23 players to fill the breach.
“Midfielder Luiz, currently part of Brazil’s squad at the Copa America, will be the last player to report back appears likely to miss the start of the Premier League season after also being called up for the Olympic Games.”
After seeing their impressive form tail away towards the end of last season in the Premier League, Smith will no doubt be desperately hoping to kick-start the new campaign with a bang.
With Maher already revealing that Douglas Luiz is set to miss the start of the new season due to being picked for the Olympic Games by Brazil, as well as currently being at Copa America, Villa’s first-team squad will already be without one of its key central midfielders.
Having Luiz out of contention is one thing, but Smith also faces the major issue of potentially seeing the likes of Grealish, Mings and Martinez missing a large portion of pre-season as well if both England and Argentina go onto the latter stages of their respective international tournaments.
Those players will likely be given the same amount of time off as the rest of Villa’s squad, so the chances of them coming back to pre-season and then being ready and in peak condition for the first couple of Premier League games seems very slim.
Villa’s campaign gets underway with a clash against Watford at Vicarage Road on August 14, while the EURO 2020 final is on July 11, and the Copa America final is a day earlier.
Smith will be very worried at the prospect of seeing a core group of players miss pre-season and potentially the opening day too.