Aston Villa will benefit from the availability of goalkeeper Emi Martinez this weekend, Dean Smith has confirmed.
The West Midlands club host West Ham at Villa Park on Sunday in the Premier League. They will be looking for a return to winning ways after being beaten in their last three matches.
Martinez, 29, was expected to be out for the upcoming fixture. He flew to his native Argentina to be with his family due to an emergency.
The shot-stopper posted a picture with his brother and father after the latter had gone through an operation.
It was assumed that back-up keeper Jed Steer would have to fill in, but Smith revealed Martinez’s return at a pre-match press conference.
“Contrary to reports, our goalkeeper will be training today,” the manager said. “He has had a personal issue and flew back to Argentina but he’s back and due to train today (Friday) so I have no worries about his availability.
“I believe (his father is fine). It’s a personal issue and we will leave that with Emi.”
On Aston Villa’s current form, Smith continued: “Three games ago we were coming off the back of winning at Old Trafford for the first time in 12 years.
“We’ve had two tight matches against Tottenham and Wolves and we probably threw the Wolves game away in the last 10 minutes.
“We had a really poor first half against Arsenal. We changed it at half-time and certainly got better. For me, a pivotal point was the penalty and it shouldn’t have been referred to VAR because it wasn’t clear and obvious.
“So out of the last three games, we’ve had two narrow defeats and one where we didn’t turn up in the first half. We got a response in the second half at Arsenal and we need a response now against West Ham.”
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David Moyes’ side will be tough opponents on Sunday. The Irons have won their last four games in all competitions. That run includes a Europa League win over Genk and the Carabao Cup victory against holders Man City.
When asked about the side, Smith said: “They’re in a really good moment. They’re a very good team with a very good coach. I’m full of respect for David Moyes and how well he’s done at West Ham. He’s got them playing in Europe this season and they’re playing very well.
“I expect a tough game, but it’s one we’re looking forward too. They’ve got a very good squad and a way of playing that suits their players.
“They have a good understanding, a good organisation and good players. When you’ve got those ingredients for a good team, I expected them to be pushing again this season.”
After the West Ham clash Villa will travel to Southampton on Friday November 5.
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