Aston Villa manager Unai Emery reacts as Ollie Watkins is substituted with an injury. Alamy Stock Photo

Aston Villa optimistic after Ollie Watkins scare

The striker limped off injured this evening.

ASTON VILLA boss Unai Emery said Ollie Watkins’ knee injury sustained in the 4-0 Europa Conference League last-16 win over 10-man Ajax was “not more than a cut”.

Watkins, named in England boss Gareth Southgate’s latest squad earlier on Thursday, headed Villa in front in the 25th minute, having already sustained the injury in a challenge with Ajax goalkeeper Diant Ramaj.

But the former Brentford striker limped off eight minutes later and had to watch his team-mates run riot in the second half with Leon Bailey, John Duran and Moussa Diaby goals killing off the tie after last week’s goalless draw in Amsterdam.

It sent Villa through to their first European quarter-final since 1998 and their mood will be heightened even more by the good news on Watkins’ injury.

“The injury is not more than a cut on the knee,” boss Unai Emery said. “Maybe he is available for Sunday, I think maybe we have to wait for tomorrow and Saturday, but it is a cut.”

Watkins’ goal put Villa on course for a win which became much easier in the second half when Ajax were reduced to 10 men.

Villa were 2-0 up by that point through Bailey’s strike, with Duran and Diaby booking their spot in the next round.

“We were very respectful of them. We were how we needed to face them here with our supporters at Villa Park, trying to perform better than the opposition with our quality on the pitch,” the Spaniard added.

“The second half was easier for us after the red card. We’re happy because we are motivated in this competition.”

Ajax defender Devyne Rensch was frank in his assessment of his side’s exit.

He said: “Yeah, it’s s**t. It’s painful we are used to winning for cups and competing and that is not going to happen.

“It’s a real let down, it’s a disappointment, it shouldn’t be happening, but we have to move on.

“Being Ajax we are always in the running for the top prizes and this season it is just not the case and it is very difficult to accept that.”

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