Aston Villa and England relief as Emery updates on Ollie Watkins' injury

Aston Villa v AFC Ajax: Round of 16 Second Leg - UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24
Aston Villa v AFC Ajax: Round of 16 Second Leg - UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24 / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Aston Villa's impressive Europa Conference League victory over Ajax was marred by a concerning injury to star striker Ollie Watkins. The forward, who opened the scoring at Villa Park, was forced off after just 33 minutes following a collision with the Ajax goalkeeper. The incident sparked immediate fears over his availability for crucial upcoming fixtures with both club and country.

Watkins had to be treated multiple times before ultimately signalling his inability to continue, raising alarm bells for Aston Villa fans and England supporters alike. With Villa chasing Champions League qualification and England gearing up for high-profile friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, Watkins' potential absence would have been a significant blow.

However, Aston Villa manager Unai Emery delivered a positive update after the match. He clarified that Watkins had sustained a cut on his knee, allaying fears of a more serious injury.

Emery expressed optimism about the striker potentially being fit for Villa's next Premier League outing against West Ham United, a crucial match in their pursuit of European football next season.

Villa's dominant 4-0 win over Ajax not only secured their place in the Europa Conference League quarter-finals but also showcased their depth and determination on the European stage.

Watkins has been instrumental in Villa's success this season, netting 21 goals across all competitions. His potential swift return will be vital as Villa target a top-four finish.

However, concerns remain over Villa defender Diego Carlos, who was substituted in the 74th minute due to a muscle injury. Emery's assessment of Carlos' fitness was less optimistic, suggesting a potential defensive headache for Villa in their upcoming matches. This situation highlights the toll of competing across multiple competitions and the importance of having a strong squad.

The Watkins injury sent a wave of worry through Aston Villa supporters. From the initial shock to the relief following Emery's update, the incident exemplifies the unpredictable swings of football.

Eyes will be firmly fixed on Watkins' recovery, with his return set to play a significant role in the defining weeks of the season for both Aston Villa and England.