Noel Whelan is adamant that new signing Emiliano Martinez will make his debut for Aston Villa tonight against Sheffield United.
The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, claimed that the 28-year-old is “fit, confident and ready to go” ahead of the Claret and Blue’s season opener.
Villa confirmed that the Argentine shot-stopper had signed on a four-year deal last week after this site revealed that a £17million plus add-ons bid had been accepted by Arsenal.
Martinez did not make the EFL Cup squad that beat Burton Albion 3-1 in midweek and last played in the Gunners Community Shield final victory against Liverpool last month.
Fellow new signings Ollie Watkins, Matty Cash and Bertrand Traore could also make their Premier League debuts for the club.
When asked by Football Insider if Martinez would likely make his debut for the West Midlands club tonight, Whelan said: “Martinez will start the game, without a doubt.
“They have not signed him to sit on the bench. When you spend £20million on a goalkeeper they will go straight in.
“Goalkeepers do not need to much time to adapt, especially when he has only had a short time off from his last game with Arsenal. He is fit, confident and ready to go.
“I cannot see him not starting tonight. Martinez will be Dean Smith’s number one this evening.”
Speaking ahead of the Sheffield United clash, Smith said: “Martinez’s played in the Community Shield as well, so he’s probably had more games than our goalkeepers so far. In terms of readiness, he’s 100%.
“He has to go and earn the shirt – all the players know that. You don’t get many opportunities to get a goalkeeper of his calibre at this stage of his career.”
In other Aston Villa news, Michael Brown tips multiple new signings after major contract announcement.