Unai Emery is adamant Emiliano Martinez is now “100 percent” focused on Aston Villa ahead of his expected return to action against Wolves on Wednesday following the Argentina goalkeeper’s World Cup-winning heroics.
Martinez was on the bench for Villa’s 2-0 victory at Tottenham on Sunday, with Swedish keeper Robin Olsen enjoying a clean sheet against Spurs.
Villa manager Emery said Tuesday he had had always planned to give Martinez extra time out of the starting XI, but hinted the 30-year-old, much criticised for his post-World Cup final celebrations, was set to be back between the posts for the local derby.
“Emiliano had a very good start with us (on Sunday), being in the squad and travelling with us,” Emery said.
“He had training two days, Friday and Saturday, and now more sessions so I think he will be ready after his rest and after the emotion he had with winning this World Cup.
“I think for us he is very important and we can be proud of him for being a winner at the World Cup but now his focus is 100 percent with Aston Villa.”
Martinez was a key figure in Argentina’s World Cup final win over France.
He made a fine save to deny Randal Kolo Muani in extra-time and then denied Kingsley Coman in the shoot-out in Qatar as Argentina won a thrilling final.
But the keeper was then seen making a crude gesture after winning the golden glove trophy for the best goalkeeper at the tournament.
Then, during Argentina’s victory parade in Buenos Aires, he was seen holding a baby doll with its face covered by a photograph of France star striker Kylian Mbappe, who scored a hat-trick in the final but still finished on the losing side.
Villa have now won three out of four matches since Emery was appointed in November, with the Birmingham club pulling clear of the Premier League’s relegation zone.
Wednesday’s match will see Spanish boss Emery up against a familiar opponent, with Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui having swapped La Liga for the Premier League in common with his compatriot.
“Julen is a very, very good coach,” said Emery. “He has experience and he decided as well to come to the Premier League and I think he is a fantastic coach.
“To play against teams he managed and coached is a big challenge because he demands a lot with his style. We are ready to play again this season, for the second time after Villarreal and Sevilla, and I will take it as a great challenge.”