By Peter Lynch

2nd May, 2023 | 5:40pm

Unai Emery risks upsetting Jhon Duran as Aston Villa staff block international call

It is all smiles around Aston Villa these days, with Unai Emery clearing away the gloom and doom thanks to a stunning run of form.

That run has brought the club into European contention, with Villa currently sitting seventh in the Premier League table with four matches to go.

They are level on 54 points with Tottenham in sixth, with the two clubs set to meet at Villa Park later this month.

There is, however, one slight bit of worry among all the happiness in the Aston Villa camp, and that worry involves young striker Jhon Duran.

He definitely isn’t one of the main figures amid the club’s recent success, but he remains part of Emery’s puzzle in the search for European football.

But that minor role looks set to cause an upset, with Aston Villa staff set to deny the Colombian the opportunity to join up with his national team later this month.

The Under-20 World Cup will get underway in the final weeks of May, with the tournament coinciding with Villa’s last few fixtures of the season.

Colombia manager Hector Cardenas unsurprisingly wants the striker to be made available for the tournament, but that desire looks certain to be blocked by Emery as he plans to utilise every player possible in the last month of the Premier League campaign.

According to Semana, that is the angle that those pulling the strings at Aston Villa intend to use. Emery’s desire comes despite the teenager being used sparingly since joining in January, with the striker handed just 90 minutes in his nine Aston Villa appearances so far.

“He has four more games ahead against Wolverhampton, Tottenham, Liverpool and Brighton, most of them direct rivals for the goal of the season, an argument in which the coaching staff uses not to lend him, even when he usually enters for the last minutes of the game,” according to Semana.

It’s definitely an unwanted distraction for Emery, who will want every single player fully focused on the massive task ahead.

Duran may be one for the future, but the Aston Villa boss clearly has immediate plans for the youngster between now and the end of May.

Ollie Watkins won’t be dropped anytime soon, but Duran represents fresh legs from the bench, a pacey and direct option that many defenders will not want to face in the dying minutes of the match.

In other Aston Villa news, the club have expressed an interest in signing one record-breaking striker, but they are likely to face some stiff competition for his services.