Unai Emery admits he sometimes has to stop Ollie Watkins from training too much

Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery admits he sometimes has to stop Ollie Watkins from over-doing things in training, with the striker so keen to continue his fine form.

Watkins slotted in a penalty to set Villa on their way to a 2-0 win at Everton last weekend, which halted a three-match losing run.

In doing so, England international Watkins became the first Villa player to score in five consecutive Premier League games.

Emery continues to be impressed by the work-rate of the 27-year-old former Brentford forward, even if he has to hold him back for his own good.

“He is very competitive. Every day at training, when we are finishing, he wants to take more exercises, he wants to do more at the end of training, individually, with the coaches,” the Villa boss said.

“His mentality is very good. Sometimes we have to stop him; we have to tell him, ‘No, this is enough for today. Tomorrow, more’.

“It is good. In his mind, we have to keep this mentality because, for him and the team, that spirit is the best.

“I want to help him as well, trying to support him with my experiences with strikers and giving him the confidence to do more and more.”

Emery told a press conference: “I am demanding of him as well when we don’t have the ball, defensively, trying to be together, his attitude defensively is amazing as well. That is the way.

“Defensively and offensively, we try to use his skills, adding his characteristics.

“He is doing it: scoring and defending with a great attitude. Overall, he is improving in everything.”

Villa number one Emiliano Martinez was named the top men’s goalkeeper at The Best FIFA Awards in Paris on Monday, having helped Argentina win the World Cup in Qatar.

Emery said: “He is very proud of what he has achieved here with Aston Villa and his national team. It is very good news to have one of our players (winning the award).

“I am very happy with him. He helps this team to be more competitive. We want to have him for a long time.”

Villa will be without Leander Dendoncker, who is dealing with a personal matter, for the visit of Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Forward Philippe Coutinho remains sidelined by a thigh problem, but back-up goalkeeper Robin Olsen is available again following his own fitness issues.

Palace will be looking to build on a run of three straight draws, including holding Liverpool to a blank last weekend, as they search for a first Premier League win of 2023.

“It is a difficult match. They are playing and being consistent aside from the results. They don’t concede a lot of chances to the opponent,” Emery said.

“They are playing with a good idea. I know tomorrow we have to be consistent across the 90 minutes because it is not a match that will be decided easily or quickly.

“The starting XI have to be ready, the players on the bench need to be ready to make an impact if we need it.”