Ollie Watkins reveals what Declan Rice thinks about Aston Villa's Europa Conference League chances

Ollie Watkins has revealed private conversations with Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen, who both believe that Aston Villa can win the UEFA Europa Conference League title this campaign.

Villa are locked in for a semi-final first leg in the competition against Olympiacos this evening at Villa Park. It may be a challenge with first-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez missing, though Unai Emery is relishing the challenge continental football has presented his side.

Should they come out on top against their opponents, another trip to Greece will be store for the final in Athens, where they will face either Fiorentina or Club Brugge. That fixture would present the opportunity to replicate the achievement West Ham United managed 12 months prior.

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The Hammers won the competition in the Czech Republic with a side that included Rice - now with Arsenal - and scorer of the 90th-minute match-winner Bowen. Speaking to TNT Sports, Watkins was asked: "Does what happened with West Ham last year spur you on?"

"Yeah definitely. I spoke to Dec and I spoke to Jarrod Bowen at England and they were confident that that we’re going to win it. We’re confident ourselves, but you never know what’s going to happen," Villa's No.11 replied.

So not only are Emery's men the bookmakers' favourite to win the entire competition - they are being backed by England internationals that have been there, done that and taken a gold medal home for their efforts.

Should Villa win the Europa Conference League, they would be awarded a place in next season's Europa League. That is unless the club qualify for the Champions League via their domestic league finishing place, which at present they sit in prime position to claim fourth place. Based on last season's earnings, they would pocket around £12.3m in prize money for their entire run through the competition.

Will Aston Villa win the UEFA Europa Conference League? Let us know in the comment section below