Ollie Watkins might be scoreless in seven for Aston Villa, but his contribution goes far beyond sticking the ball in the back of the net.
That is according to 201-time Villa right-back Alan Hutton, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams ahead of Dean Smith’s side’s meeting with Manchester United tonight.
Villa are in superb form and know a win against United would see them move into 3rd place, but there is growing concern about the form of £28million summer signing Watkins who has not scored since a deuce against Arsenal in early November.
However, the 25-year-old’s performances are widely acknowledged to have stayed at a high level, even when he isn’t making the net bulge.
Asked by Football Insider whether Watkins’ confidence would begin to suffer as a result of his recent lack of goals, Hutton made an interesting observation: “He doesn’t seem the type of boy that worries about not scoring goals. Obviously, all strikers are going to be judged on goals, I understand that. But it’s also about what else he brings to the table.
“He’s not just standing up front. He works defenders, he runs channels, he even crosses the ball into the box, he makes things happen, he’s a pest.
“Dean Smith believes in him, he trusts in him, and that will give him the confidence to keep going.
“He’s hit the post, he’s hit the bar. It’s not like he’s not in games, he gives you a whole lot more.
“The way Villa are playing, with the chances they’re creating, it won’t be long until the goals start flowing.”
Watkins was the Championship’s joint-top scorer last season, tied with Aleksander Mitrovic on 26 goals.
He became Villa’s record signing in the summer and, despite his recent dry spell, is still the club’s top scorer in what is already a wildly successful Premier League campaign.