Aston Villa could well be without key figures Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia for the weekend’s clash against Chelsea.
Both of the Emilianos have been caught up in the South American scandal that went on over the international break.
Many Premier League clubs prevented their Latin American stars from representing their respective countries over the two-week interlude.
Yet, Villa allowed Martinez and Buendia to be available for Argentina’s first two matches with Venezuela and Brazil.
After the Brazil clash blew up in a fiery cloud of molten smoke, the duo reportedly decided to fly into Croatia instead of back to England.
Heading home immediately from South America would have forced the pair into a 10-day isolation period.
Returning to the UK from a fellow European nation means they can continue training, whilst also minimising the number of games they could miss.
Unfortunately, the fixture Martinez and Buendia are set to be absent for is Saturday’s afternoon kick-off away to Chelsea.
Pair of Villians
This is not Armageddon day for the Villian’s, but it certainly sets Dean Smith’s team selection back somewhat.
Martinez has saved, dived and caught his way to becoming one of the league’s supreme goalkeepers since signing for Villa last summer.
Only Ederson and Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy kept more top-flight clean sheets in 2020/21 than the Argentine.
His omission will probably allow Jed Steer to get a rare foray into the spotlight.
Only twice before has the 28-year-old faced the ferocity of the Premier League.
If losing Martinez was a kick in the teeth to defence, then Villa have taken an uppercut to their attack thanks to Buendia’s exclusion.
Tasked with filling Jack Grealish’s rolled-down socks, the club-record signing was just starting to hit some form after scoring against Brentford in the previous domestic outing.
Whilst Smith begins to plan life without his absent duet, Thomas Tuchel will be sweating over the fitness of several key components in his camp.
Romelu Lukaku is having or has had a scan on a thigh problem. Kai Havertz is overcoming the flu and N’Golo Kante is recovering from an ankle injury.
Reece James is already suspended, whilst Thiago Silva might be illegible due to FIFA rulings over clubs not allowing players to play for their countries over the pause in league football.