BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Aston Villa’s chances of avoiding relegation from the Premier League were hit Friday when the club ruled out goalkeeper Tom Heaton and striker Wesley for the rest of the season.
Both players damaged knee ligaments in the 2-1 win at Burnley on Wednesday that left Villa a point clear of the relegation zone after 21 of 38 matches.
Heaton, an England goalkeeper, and Wesley, who recently made his debut for Brazil, were offseason signings and have been regulars in the team.
Villa, which is in its first season in the top division since 2016, is also without midfielder John McGinn for three months because of a broken ankle.
“It’ll hasten what we do in the (transfer) market,” Villa manager Dean Smith said Friday ahead of an FA Cup match at second-tier club Fulham on Saturday. “They’re out for the rest of the season and it’s all I need to know so I can start planning.”
Heaton’s injury deprives England coach Gareth Southgate of a back-up goalkeeper for the European Championship in June and July.
Smith said the busy schedule over the festive period hadn’t helped his squad’s injury situation, with left back Matt Targett also now out.
With Villa having reached the English League Cup semifinals, where it will play fellow central-English team Leicester over two legs, Smith’s side also has a packed January.
“We’ve had five games in 16 days and another seven to come in January,” he said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to deal with it, help the players in their recovery and go and recruit wisely.”
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