By Noel Whelan

4th Feb, 2023 | 11:45am

Expert issues emphatic Ollie Watkins verdict after Aston Villa U-turn - 'it's what he needs'

Noel Whelan has claimed Ollie Watkins could thrive after Aston Villa failed to bring in a replacement for Danny Ings in January.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 27-year-old needs to “deliver” in order to repay the faith put in him by Unai Emery.

Ings, who was Aston Villa’s top scorer at the time of his exit, departed to West Ham on 20 January.

As per Birmingham Live (30 January), Unai Emery insisted he was looking to make a new striker signing in the final days of the winter window.

Teen sensation Jhon Duran arrived at Villa Park last month but Emery suggested he is not expecting the Colombia international to make an instant impact in the Premier League.

Watkins joined Aston Villa from Brentford in 2020 for a reported potential fee of £33million but has averaged a goal every three games as he approaches 100 appearances for the club.

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Whelan told Football Insider’s Ewan Kingsbury: “If a striker isn’t available, what’s the point of bringing someone in and wasting money?

“There’s going to be pressure on Ollie Watkins, but maybe this is what he needs.

“He will expect more goals and assists from himself. The performances have been there – but it’s about goals when you’re a centre-forward.

“There is a lot on his shoulders but he came at a big price tag. This is where he needs to deliver.

“The manager has put a lot of faith in him and now it’s time to deliver.”

In other news, expert claims Aston Villa are “in dreamland” after “brilliant” Diego Carlos update.