Key duo may return as Aston Villa look to bounce back from Man City defeat

Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League
Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Aston Villa's Champions League ambitions could get a significant lift this weekend as the club is hopeful for the return of star goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and talismanic striker Ollie Watkins for Saturday's Premier League showdown against Brentford.

Martinez's late absence due to illness against Manchester City on Wednesday was a blow to Villa's plans, while Watkins has been on the sidelines since sustaining a hamstring injury in their weekend victory over Wolves. However, manager Unai Emery is optimistic about both players' chances of featuring against Brentford.

Emiliano Martinez's potential return between the sticks will be a welcome sight for Villa. Backup Robin Olsen performed admirably against Man City despite the 4-1 defeat, but Martinez's shot-stopping prowess and commanding presence offer a sense of security to their back line.

Meanwhile, Ollie Watkins has been in blistering form for Villa this season as their primary goal threat – he sits on an impressive 16 goals and 10 assists to date.

Emiliano Martinez, Ollie Watkins
Brentford FC v Aston Villa - Premier League / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

The possible returns come at a vital time for Aston Villa. Their current 4th place position in the Premier League standings is far from assured, with Tottenham breathing down their necks just two points behind. Every match counts, and Saturday's clash against Brentford is no exception. While Brentford's recent form has been poor, they will be hungry to turn things around and Villa can ill afford to take them lightly.

Beyond Martinez and Watkins, Villa are also expecting the return of midfielder John McGinn from suspension while Jacob Ramsey is inching closer to a comeback following his foot injury. If Emery can call on a near-full-strength squad, Villa will be a force to be reckoned with as they fight to secure the coveted Champions League spot.

With the season reaching crunch time, this Brentford matchup is a potential turning point for Villa. A win, especially with key players back in the fold, could inject renewed confidence into their campaign.

Fans and the team alike will be anxiously awaiting the fitness updates on both Martinez and Watkins – their presence could make all the difference in Villa's pursuit of European glory.