Ahead of Monday’s meeting with the Blades, Villa is set to hand his debut over to Emiliano Martinez, Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins. £ 17million winger Bertrand Traore is awaiting international clearance after his transfer from Lyon on Friday.
Villa, meanwhile, has two well-known casualties ahead of the season opener in the form of No.1 goalscorer Tom Heaton and No.9 striker Wesley. The couple, of course, suffered the same devastating anterior cruciate ligament tears on New Years Day in Burnley more than eight months ago.
Here’s the latest news on the injured duo – plus news about a blow to Bjorn Engels – and what has been said about their recovery and potential return to action.
WesleyInjury: Knee ligament damage in the 2-1 win at Burnley on January 1, 2020.
Target return date: January 2021. Wesley returned from Brazil last week to continue his rehabilitation at Bodymoor Heath.
What she said: “I didn’t even want to know the severity (of the injury). I was having a great time scoring goals, I didn’t want to know at the time.
“The doctor explained to me that I was breaking my ligaments. I was crying every day, worried, I would even play ball again. But my family supported me. “
What Dean Smith said: “He’s back with us now, but he’s not training in any form or form. The swelling has come down to his knee now but it was a pretty serious injury that he suffered.
“We thought it was going to be a 12 month injury and nothing has told us otherwise. He takes his place and I hope he will be back as soon as possible. “
Injury: Thigh tension.
Target return date: Bristol City at the Carabao Cup on September 24.
What Dean Smith said: “No, Bjorn Engels has a slight strain on his thigh at the moment (and will miss Sheffield United). “
Injury: Knee ligament damage in the 2-1 win at Burnley on January 1, 2020.
Target return date: Leicester City (a) on Saturday 17th October.
What she said: “It’s hard to pin down. I think the start of the season has unfortunately come too early. When the lockout happened, I booked it as a possibility.
“He landed a bit happily with the games, not playing the first week (due to the Man City postponement). We only have three league matches until the international break. if the doctors agree, I’m not so sure.
“It certainly gives me enough time, it will take eight and a half weeks to do well and, fingers crossed, we’ll see how it goes. ”
What Dean Smith said: “I said last season that I thought he was my best signing; his knowledge of the Premier League, his character, his personality around the place was really helpful.
“We lost him at a very important stage on New Years Day, with his injury it will be great to find him. “