By Villa News Speaking to Dan Bardell

6th Mar, 2023 | 6:10pm

Jhon Duran and 'undroppable' Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins set to star together

The strike partnership that many Aston Villa fans have craved but not yet witnessed in the Premier League is that of Ollie Watkins and Jhon Duran.

Since securing his £18million move to Villa Park in the January transfer window, the 19-year-old has been used sparingly by Unai Emery – amassing just 55 minutes across four appearances – and rarely being played in a front-two alongside the bang-in-form Watkins even when he is summoned off the bench.

The Colombian teenager has given the Villa Park faithful plenty to talk about in the brief cameos he has played, striking the crossbar in the dying moments of the 3-1 loss to Manchester City with a bludgeoning shot before almost netting a superb solo goal against league-leaders Arsenal.

However, possibly due to the lack of attacking alternatives at Emery’s disposal, and therefore the lack of game-changers he can call on from the bench, Duran is yet to be played from the first whistle.

There is little chance of the former Chicago Fire striker replacing Watkins in the Villa team, with the Englishman experiencing his most potent run of goalscoring form since arriving in the West Midlands in 2020, so opportunities have unfortunately been scarce.

However, speaking exclusively to Villa News, The Atheltic’s Dan Bardell hinted that it is only a matter of time before Watkins and Duran are played beside one another in Emery’s starting line-up.

He said: “In the near future I think Duran will be used as an impact sub due to the other lack of options from the bench. However, I think they [Watkins and Duran] will partner each other at some stage before the season ends, and they should suit each others games really well.

“Watkins is completely undroppable, regardless of his goalscoring form, I think he’s undroppable anyway.

“He offers so much in terms of all-round game and what he offers the side in terms of stretching the opposition, pressing and hassling the opposition defences, but I do think they could be a strong partnership together.

“Duran has looked lively in the games he has come off the bench. Against Arsenal, he came on and he wasn’t afraid to have a go at his teammates, take defenders on and jee the crowd up a bit – so he looks a bit of a character.

“He looks like the type of striker that Villa fans will like, he doesn’t look shy or overawed by the Premier League so far and has looked lively as an impact sub so far. I think Emery will keep it that way for the next month so he will have to bide his time for some starts, but I think you will see him feature alongside Watkins at some point later this season.”

The prospect of Watkins and Duran as a front two will be an extremely exciting prospect for Emery to tinker with in the near future.

Both players are happy to do the dirty work and press opposition defences, they both possess a serious turn of speed, and Duran has proven he is no mug in front of goal for a player of his age after netting eight goals and providing five assists in the MLS last season.

At just 19 years of age, Emery is correctly biding his time before throwing Duran into the lion’s den of Premier League football.

In other Aston Villa news, the future of this loanee hangs in the balance as contract talks await.