Three Aston Villa stars ruled out hours before Chelsea clash

Aston Villa stars Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Lucas Digne have been ruled out their club’s FA Cup tie with Chelsea.

Unai Emery has selected the 26-year-old in all-but one of Villa’s games this season before he was forced off with a knee problem in the recent 5-0 win at Sheffield United.

There were reports Konsa would be out for a significant period of time but Emery stated before the fourth-round replay against Chelsea that he should return towards the end of this month.

“He is injured,” confirmed Emery on Tuesday.

“He has a knee sprain and he is going to be not available for three or four weeks, more or less.”

Chelsea will be without a substantial number of players themselves with defenders Reece James, Marc Cucurella, Trevoh Chalobah, Wesley Fofana and Levi Colwill all unavailable for selection. Romeo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu and Robert Sanchez are also injured.

Tyrone Mings and Lucas Digne will miss out for Villa while Nicolo Zaniolo is a doubt. Pau Torres will return from injury to make the squad but Emery has ruled him out of starting Wednesday’s match at Villa Park.

“The other players are out for tomorrow,” he continued.

“Lucas Digne is progressing well but is out. Pau Torres has trained with the group and he will be on the bench.”

Former Chelsea director joins chase for AS Roma job

Roma are in need of a new sporting director to replace Tiago Pinto, with Paul Mitchell, Florian Maurice, Christopher Vivell and ex-Milan chief Ricky Massara among the candidates.

Tiago Pinto had been under contract until the end of the season, but announced he would be leaving straight after the January transfer window had come to a close.

The search is on to find a replacement ahead of the summer and Footmercato suggest club owners Dan and Ryan Friedkin are looking abroad with a series of meetings set up.

Of the candidates, the only Italian is Frederic Massara, who already had an experience at Roma from 2011 to 2019, then was director of sport at Milan under Paolo Maldini from 2019 to 2023.

Other options include Vivell, a 37-year-old German who had just seven months as technical director at Chelsea from December 2022 to July 2023.

He previously worked at Hoffenheim, RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig.

Englishman Paul Mitchell is 42 years old and again spent time in the Red Bull network of clubs, before his three years as director of sport at AS Monaco.

French Stade Rennais chief Maurice was previously a head scout at Olympique Lyonnais before taking the technical director role at Rennes in the summer of 2020.

Maurice had been heading for the exit in November before changing his mind, but can be coaxed by the Roma job.