HomeFootball NewsManchester City v Aston Villa: Emery backs Duran to fill Watkins void

Manchester City v Aston Villa: Emery backs Duran to fill Watkins void

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Unai Emery has backed young striker Jhon Duran to shine in the absence of the injured Ollie Watkins when Aston Villa go to Manchester City tomorrow night.

Watkins came off at half-time in the 2-0 win over Wolves at the weekend with a hamstring injury and has been ruled out of the trip to the Etihad.

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Emery will turn to Colombia international Duran to fill the void and is confident the 20-year-old will thrive.

He said: “He is young but he has big potential. He needs to get practice and minutes in matches. He was injured before when he was playing and getting better. Now he has recovered and is fit.

“Without Watkins tomorrow, he will have the opportunity to get minutes, to get confidence and to show his power and capacity.

“We have to try to support his qualities in our tactics. It is his moment.” 

Emery is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing his side, though.

Although Villa are fourth, and looking good in their pursuit of a Champions League spot, he believes they are facing the best team in the country tomorrow night.

“We’re playing against the best team in the Premier League so it is the biggest test,” he added.

“Tomorrow is one of the biggest matches for us and playing against them is always very difficult. To add to that we are playing away. They have some of the best players in the world but we are very excited and motivated.

“We have had a lot of bad circumstances with injured players, but we are always trying to be positive. The players in the squad are there because we believe [in them], and we believe in our capacity to respond. Now is the moment.”

Not only do third-placed City have some of the best players in the world, according to Emery, they also possess the best coach in Pep Guardiola.

“I am very thankful to be a coach and facing Manchester City is always exciting,” said the Spaniard.

“To be consistent is the challenge I have with my players and then if we win, lose or draw, it is about getting balance.

“Pep [Guardiola] is the best coach in the world for me. Analysing him in Spain and here in England, he is a brilliant coach and he has given a lot of coaches a new way of working.

“He is very competitive. To be the very best it’s more than just tactics. It’s about being humble as a person and the management of players. He has shown that in my opinion. I am trying to get better like that myself.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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