Covid worries for Villa but Buendia is fresh for City reunion

Aston Villa's Emiliano Buendia in action during the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham.

Former Norwich City star Emi Buendia in Premier League action for Aston Villa - Credit: PA

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has ensured 'fantastic talent' Emi Buendia is fresh for his reunion with Norwich City on Tuesday night.

Gerrard revealed that midfielder Marvelous Nakamba has a knee injury and joins forwards Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore in the treatment room.

The former England midfielder also said he will be without two players due to positive Covid-19 tests but did not name those players, with two members of his off-field staff also testing positive.

Buendia is poised for a Carrow Road return though, having played the final 20 minutes of a 1-0 loss at Liverpool on Saturday, with City's reigning Player of the Season facing his former team-mates for the first time since his club-record summer sale in a deal worth up to £38million.

“He’s a fantastic talent. I’m really happy to work closely with him – I think our system suits him really well," Gerrard said of the Argentine attacker.

“He’s had a couple of knocks over the last three or four sessions, so we have tried to manage his load. The idea was always to have him fresh and ready for this game.

“He’s trained extremely well this morning. We believe he can keep growing and evolving as a player. I’m excited to keep working with him moving forward, and there’s a big role for Emi to play.

“When he’s at his best, everyone knows he’s very inventive, creative and he can score goals. I’m sure he’s looking forward to this fixture.”

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The match also pits Canaries boss Dean Smith against his boyhood club, who sacked him last month after successive defeats, having previously engineered Championship promotion and two seasons of Premier League survival.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard gestures on the touchline during the Premier League match at Anfi

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard on the touchline at Anfield - Credit: PA

Smith has taken five points from his first five games and Gerrard has managed nine from his first five since coming down from Rangers to succeed him at Villa Park. City are bottom on 10 points, nine adrift of the 13th-placed Villans ahead of kick-off.

“We’ve had time to analyse Norwich. Since Dean’s gone in, he’s had a new manager bounce and lift," the Liverpool legend continued, speaking to Villa's official website.

“They certainly look like they play with more possession and their performances have certainly improved.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game under the lights at Carrow Road. The manager we’re facing knows a lot about this group and the players individually.

“The advantage our side is these players know the manager they’re competing against, so there are pros and cons to both. We’re looking forward to the game.

“It’s a big challenge, but this is a game that’s very different to Liverpool, with all due respect. It’s a game we want to be aggressive in and we’ll certainly try and show more ambition.

"We’ll need to perform extremely well to get points from the game.”

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