Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is full of praise for “fantastic” Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stamford Bridge.

Aside from the 3-2 defeat to Watford in their first game of the season, Villa have been quite solid at the back and only conceded once in their last three games in all competitions.

But at the same time, Chelsea’s new number nine Lukaku is in fine goalscoring form, having scored four goals in his last four games for Chelsea and Belgium.

Not to mention that Villa are likely without their first-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez for this game. These could spell trouble for Smith’s side.

Ahead of the game, Smith did not hide his admiration for the striker, highlighting his track record at both the club and the international levels.

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“[I’m] Hoping they relish the opportunity. Because that’s what it is.” the Villa boss told Sky Sports (via Football Daily) about what he expects from his players in dealing with the new Chelsea striker.

” We’ve seen the progression that he’s made in his career, the player he’s become, not just domestically, but internationally as well for Belgium.

“He’s a fantastic player.

“So hopefully they’ll relish it and come up with enough ways to be able to stop him.”

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Chronicle view

Interestingly, Lukaku has also scored in each of his last Premier League appearances against Villa, which makes his presence even more troublesome for the visitors.

The 28-year-old, however, is not the only Chelsea attacker who has returned from international duty full of confidence.

Timo Werner bagged three goals for Germany in the World Cup qualifiers, although after playing full 90 minutes in each of those games mean Thomas Tuchel might be reluctant to start him straight away.

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