Aston Villa have suffered a major injury blow ahead of their Premier League clash against Newcastle on Saturday afternoon.
Dean Smith’s side fell to a surprising 3-2 defeat on the opening day of the season against Watford last weekend and will no doubt be hoping for a quick change in fortune when they host the Magpies in their first game back in front of a full crowd at Villa Park.
However, they will have to do the job without one of their main men from last season in Ollie Watkins.
Writing on Twitter, the Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece said: “Big blow! Ollie Watkins & Bertrand Traore both OUT of tomorrow’s fixture vs Newcastle. Watkins still struggling with pain on his knee while Traore will now return after international break vs Chelsea on Sept 11 + more on Sanson, Douglas, Davis.”
Make no mistake about it, while Danny Ings got his Villa career off to a decent start with a goal on his debut, missing Watkins for these opening couple of games comes as a massive blow to Smith.
The striker led Villa’s charge up the table last term, bagging 16 goals in all competitions (including 14 in the Premier League alone), and netting in home and away fixtures against both Liverpool and Arsenal. Such were his impressive performances in his debut campaign in the top flight that reports even suggested that the Merseysiders were interested in signing him in this summer transfer window.
After hearing those reports about the interest from Jurgen Klopp’s side in the centre-forward, former Villa star Lee Hendrie exclusively told Football FanCast: “If you’re going to start selling those players to the bigger clubs, how are you meant to compete? I get that you’re possibly going to get £60m for someone, but then who do you go and buy that’s going to replace Ollie Watkins?
“You’ve got to go and spend decent money on someone to go and bring him in and then it could possibly be a gamble.”
Losing your top scorer ahead of a match is a body blow for any team, but given the goalscoring burden which was on Watkins’ shoulders last season, and just how influential he proved himself to be, for him to be missing today is sure to have left Smith feeling gutted.