Aston Villa manager Unai Emery has confirmed Argentina’s World Cup winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will not face Liverpool on Boxing Day.
There had been a suggestion that Martinez wanted to make himself available to play, just over a week after his penalty shootout heroics helped his country to their first World Cup since 1986.
But with celebrations in Argentina extending far into this week, and with the vast majority of players who competed at the World Cup given extra time off, Emery has now confirmed Martinez will not feature.
Instead, the goalkeeper is expected to return to action against Tottenham on January 1.
“He’s had an excellent World Cup and we’re looking forward to having him back.
“We can all be proud of Emiliano because we have a winner in our squad.”
That leaves second-choice goalkeeper Robin Olsen most likely to deputise for Martinez on Boxing Day, although the Swede has been suffering with a minor injury problem.
He is expected to shake it off in time to face the Reds, with 19-year-old Filip Marschall next in the pecking order.
Martinez’s absence certainly isn’t bad news for Liverpool, with the Argentine one of Villa’s standout performers since his move from Arsenal in 2020.
His performance at the World Cup final will only have boosted his confidence, and second-choice ‘keeper Olsen hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory when turning out for Villa, Sheffield United and Everton in recent seasons.
Meanwhile, Philippe Coutinho is fit and available to face his former club following injury, but young midfielder Jacob Ramsey will miss out with a hamstring injury.
A trip to Villa Park certainly isn’t the easiest return to league action for Liverpool, with Emery’s side rejuvenated since the Spaniard took over from Steven Gerrard earlier this season.
But with Martinez absent, Liverpool’s chances of a positive result may have just increased.