Unai Emery has hinted Alex Moreno will return to Aston Villa's starting lineup sooner rather than later but admits Lucas Digne's consistency will make it difficult. The pair, both predominantly deployed in the left-back position, will have to compete for just one spot unless Emery decides to play one or the other further up the field.
Moreno could perhaps feature as a left midfielder if need be but it's likelier John McGinn and Nicolo Zaniolo will play instead. Jacob Ramsey will then almost certainly take precedence when he comes back from his injury, meaning one of Villa's left-backs will need to take priority in Emery's mind.
An upcoming international break means both should be at full fitness once the fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Legia Warsaw come around. It appears, however, that Moreno is already being considered ahead of Sunday's hosting of Fulham, even despite not playing a single minute this season.
"I was thinking [about playing Moreno] but we were very tight in the result," Emery admitted after the 2-1 win over AZ Alkmaar. "After five months, to play and get the impact maybe I prefer trying to play with him when the match is maybe more easy.
"He’s now doing every single session with us as normal and he’s wishing to play because he’s feeling very good. He has the passion and I have to decide when we think is the right moment for him," Emery said.
Digne, meanwhile, is on the other end of the scale as he's had to fill in for Moreno since pre-season. The Frenchman has played 99 percent of the minutes available to him in the Premier League, as well as 88 percent in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
"Lucas Digne has been very, very consistent and he's very important," Emery continued. "His commitment every day to try to keep the structure defensively, the structure playing out of matches, playing, resting, trying to be ready and focused for every match and every minute he’s playing.
"Now we’re going to add Alex Moreno, they have to pay together, helping the team and both being competitive. We used one match John McGinn as a left full-back but of course now with Alex Moreno, I think we are happy with both full-backs at left because they’re very good players and their commitment is amazing," Emery concluded.