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Aston Villa's Emi Martinez facing 7,000-mile dash for Wolves clash

Dean Smith has claimed Emi Martinez could be available for Villa’s derby with Wolves later this month despite being set to play in Argentina just 36 hours before.

Emi Martinez
Emi Martinez

Martinez will jet off for international duty after tomorrow’s trip to Tottenham following an agreement between the government and Premier League which will allow vaccinated players returning from red-list countries to avoid hotel quarantine.

The timing of the third and final South American qualifiers still poses a problem for Villa, with Argentina hosting Peru in the early hours of Friday, October 15, UK time.

But Smith yesterday suggested Martinez could still feature when they host Wolves at 3pm the following day. The goalkeeper is expected to make the 7,000-mile journey from Buenos Aires to Birmingham by private jet.

Asked whether Villa might request Martinez only plays in Argentina’s first two qualifiers, in order to make an earlier return, Smith replied: “There have been discussions but as far as I am aware he is going to be available for all three (Argentina) games but also available for our first game back. That is my understanding.”

He continued: “Emi flew back from Croatia the day before the Everton game. He played well enough in that game so we certainly know he can do that.”

The relaxation of red-list rules also allows Marvelous Nakamba and Bertrand Traore to join up with Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso respectively. All three Villa players are understood to be fully vaccinated.

Martinez spent 10 days training in Croatia and missed last month’s 3-0 defeat at Chelsea in order to avoid hotel quarantine.

Under the new guidelines, players will have to quarantine in “bespoke facilities” for 10 days upon their arrival back in the UK. They will be permitted to leave quarantine once a day to train or play.

“We have worked closely with football authorities to achieve an outcome that balances the interests of both club and country while maintaining the highest levels of public health and safety,” said a government spokesperson.

“Our best defence against the virus is vaccination and these new measures will allow fully vaccinated players to fulfil their international duties in the safest, most practical way possible, while allowing them to train and play with their clubs as early as possible upon their return.”

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