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Dean Smith assesses transfer business and issues fitness update ahead of Chelsea

A round-up of the latest Aston Villa headlines from BirminghamLive as Dean Smith’s side prepare to return to Premier League action at Chelsea.

Dean Smith satisfied that Villa depth is greater after window

‘Quality over quantity’ is an oft used phrase, particularly when applied to transfer business, but in the case of Aston Villa and Dean Smith this past summer has been a case of adding extra quality to deepen their pool of options.

Villa made five signings in the transfer window and, despite losing Jack Grealish for £100m, you’d have to argue that the overall quality of the group now at Smith’s disposal has risen as a collective.

Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings will all apply pressure to the existing forward options of Bertrand Traore, Anwar El Ghazi, Ollie Watkins and, upon his return from injury, Trezeguet.

Smith has overseen the integration of academy stars Jacob Ramsey and Carney Chukwuemeka into his first-team squad, and they are now both genuine options who complement the existing group which includes John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Morgan Sanson and Marvelous Nakamba.

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Villa in ‘no-win situation’ over Martinez and Buendia

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has confirmed that Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia should be available for next weekend’s Premier League clash with Everton.

Smith says the pair are “back in a green zone country” after becoming embroiled in Covid controversy during the international break.

Martinez and Buendia were given permission by Villa to join up with the Argentina squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Brazil, on the condition that they were released from international duty before a third game against Bolivia in the early hours of Friday morning UK time.

However, the Brazil match in Sao Paulo was abandoned after the four Premier League players in the visitors’ squad were accused of not following strict Covid protocols upon entering the country.

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Lukaku boost and Thiago update emerge ahead of Chelsea clash

Romelu Lukaku looks set to be fit for Chelsea’s Premier League showdown with Aston Villa.

The Blues’ big-money summer signing from Inter Milan picked up a thigh injury while away on international duty with Belgium.

Speaking after the 3-0 victory over Czech Republic in Brussels, the £97.5million man said: “I’ll have a scan of my thigh. I am struggling with a minor issue for a while. And then I will return to Chelsea.”

Now, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Lukaku has trained ahead of the game against Villa at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off) – with no ill effects.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, as reported by our colleagues at football.london, Tuchel said: “He (Lukaku) came back two days ago. He trained yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday) no problem at all.”

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Smith handed five fitness boosts ahead of Chelsea

Five Aston Villa players who were previously unavailable because of injury or Covid are all back to full fitness, manager Dean Smith has revealed.

Forward Ollie Watkins, wingers Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey and midfielders Jacob Ramsey and John McGinn are all available for selection for Villa at Chelsea this Saturday.

Smith will be without Argentinian pair Emi Buendia and Emi Martinez, while Carney Chukwuemeka too will miss out after collecting an injury while away with England.

“Most of you will probably not know but Buendia and Martinez are unavailable for selection!” Smith joked.

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Ings makes ‘huge’ statement after £30m transfer

Danny Ings is delighted with the start he has made to his Aston Villa career.

The striker joined Villa from Southampton during the summer transfer window for an initial fee of £25million, which could rise to £30m with add-ons.

The England international has already notched up two goals – including a spectacular overhead kick against Newcastle United – and one assist in his opening three matches for the club.

On quickly settling in and making his mark, Ings told VillaTV : “It’s huge and that’s what I’ve always wanted, really.

“As soon as I go into any club, it’s to hit the ground running so I’m really happy that I’ve been able to do that here.”

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Chelsea boss makes ‘awkward’ admission

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has admitted that the late return of players from international duty has made planning for his side’s home clash with Aston Villa particularly difficult.

The Blues are set to host Dean Smith ‘s side this weekend following the international break, but a number of players for the London outfit have only just returned to training following time away with their country.

Among those to have been involved in international football was veteran centre-back Thiago who is subject to a possible ban for the matches against Villa and Zenit Saint Petersburg.

Brazilian football authorities invoked their right through FIFA, to initiate a five-day ban for those players who did not travel for the camp after being called up.

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