Shropshire Star

Ezri Konsa not thinking of England as he aims to maintain Aston Villa form

Ezri Konsa is putting thoughts of a possible England call-up to the back of his mind as he aims to help Villa maintain a challenge on all fronts this season.

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The centre-back's impressive form has earned him a new five-year contract and heightened his case for a maiden Three Lions call, with former boss Dean Smith and team-mate Matty Cash among those lobbying for his inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s squad.

But while Konsa, who also qualifies to play for Portugal, admits playing international football is an ambition, he claims his sole current focus is Villa with Unai Emery’s men continuing a hectic campaign on Wednesday night when they host Everton in the Carabao Cup.

“I am focused on my football at Villa and whatever happens, happens,” said Konsa. “I am focused on the present. I am enjoying it at the moment.

“That (England) is not my main focus at the moment but like I say, if it comes, it comes.”

He continued: “It’s an ambition but it is not my main focus. I’m really pleased with my form. I am enjoying my football. I want to carry on enjoying my football and learn and improve. That is what I will continue to do.”

Next up is Wednesday's visit of Everton. While Konsa claimed he would be happy to play, the defender also admitted to having felt the pace late on at Stamford Bridge. One of only two players, the other being Boubacar Kamara, to have started all nine of Villa’s matches so far, it would not be a huge surprise to see him rested, particularly with a Premier League match against Brighton kicking off barely 60 hours after the final whistle.

For all the talk of challenging in four fronts this season, it was notable Konsa referenced the league as Villa’s primary focus.

“I feel the Premier League is the most important competition for us right now,” he explained. “We want to win as many games as possible and had been struggling away from home.”

Yet while Wednesday’s match is perhaps the least alluring in the current run of seven in 22 days, with more than 11,000 tickets remaining in home areas on Tuesday afternoon, it is the kind of game which could grow in importance months from now.

English football’s second domestic cup competition can often feel an inconvenience so early in the season, particularly for a club like Villa, who find themselves juggling the demands of European football for the first time in more than a decade.

The flip side to their involvement in the Europa Conference League is joining the Carabao Cup at the third round stage.

Win on Wednesday and Villa will already be through to the last-16, a favourable draw or two away from having Wembley in their sights. Ultimately, the competition offers the shortest route to the major trophy boss Unai Emery and his players crave. Record signing Moussa Diaby has already expressed his hope of reaching every cup final possible in his first season at the club.

“That is the aim for everyone who plays the game,” says Konsa. “You want to win trophies and finish as high as possible.

“The way we finished last season, we want to kick on from there and go one better this. We all have big ambitions. We have great players in the team and I am sure if we keep playing the way we are, we can achieve something and hopefully get a trophy.”

Everton have been perfect opponents ever since Villa returned to the top flight in 2019 and a win on Wednesday would be their 10th straight in all competitions.

Yet Sean Dyche’s team, beaten 4-0 at Villa Park last month, should arrive in good spirits having claimed a first league win of the season at Brentford on Saturday.

“Any game when you play a Premier League team is going to be tough, regardless of previous results,” warned Konsa. “Anything is possible but if we stick to what we know and focus on ourselves I am sure we will get the win.”