Aston Villa manager Dean Smith will be buoyed to learn that Brazilian striker Wesley is edging closer to a return to full fitness.

The 23-year-old arrived at Villa Park last summer from Belgian side Club Brugge and he almost instantly made an impact, netting five goals in 21 appearances last term.

However, he suffered a cruciate ligament injury against Burnley on New Year’s Day in a game which also saw Tom Heaton incur a similar blow.

Wesley is now edging close to a return after almost 11 months out injured, with Villa posting a behind-the-scenes snap of the striker during a training session.

With Wesley closing in on a return, it will be interesting to see if the Brazilian gets back in Dean Smith’s starting XI, especially with summer signing Ollie Watkins producing superb form.

Looking ahead to Wesley’s return to the fold, we have compared the two strikers and debated who Smith may opt to go with as his main centre-forward in the future, whilst also looking at the potential of either Keinan Davis or Bertrand Traore playing in the number nine role.

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Keinan Davis

Young Villa academy striker Davis signed a contract extension in September but he has failed to gain much playing time this term.

Just one league appearance this season suggests he is a peripheral figure in the squad; and with Wesley’s return, that seems likely to remain the case.

Bertrand Traore

Former Lyon attacker Traore was a summer signing for Smith and, whilst he has featured five times in the league for Villa, his form has been pretty poor, with no goals to his name so far.

A continuation of those struggles could see him find it hard to get into the first XI and he is certainly not seen as an option to start as the number nine at the moment.

Ollie Watkins

Since moving to Aston Villa in the summer, Watkins’ adaptation to life in the Premier League has been impeccable after a magnificent 2019/20 Championship season with Brentford.

His four goals and one assist in six Premier League games has him down as one of the league’s top strikers at the moment.

Despite Wesley’s pending return, the Torbay-born goal-scorer can rest easy that his place in Smith’s starting eleven is safe for the time being.


Five goals in 21 league games last season was a good return for a player who gradually adapted himself to England’s top flight.

His sheer presence up front allows Smith to have a good option in the air, something from which the likes of Jack Grealish could profit with crosses from the wide areas.

The good news for Smith is that Watkins is in good form, meaning Wesley can slowly be put back into the matchday squad.

There after, though, it may be that the Brazilian is forced to settle for a place on the bench if his strike partner continues to produce the goods.


  Ollie Watkins 90%
  Wesley 43%
  Keinan Davis 19%
  Bertrand Traore 11%