Villa transfer focus - Feel-good factor dampened by injury blows
It has been a summer of joy so far for Aston Villa fans, as Paul Lambert has revitalised and re-energised a club that was sinking without a trace in the Alex McLeish era. Unfortunately for Villa the feel-good factor has been dealt a blow this week, with the announcement that Richard Dunne and Gabriel Agbonlahor will both most likely miss the first month of the up and coming season due to injury.
Gabriel Agbonlahor had picked up a knock to his knee in a game against Chicago Fire during Villa’s pre-season tour of the United States. Lambert was hopeful that the injury may not have been as bad as first feared, but scans have now revealed the full extent of the damage caused to the 25-year-old Birmingham-born forward. Medial ligament damage will keep him out for at least four to five weeks, with a full return to fitness not expected for at least six.
Lambert had this to say regarding the situation in an interview given following Villa‘s 2-0 friendly victory over Peterborough: “It’s a blow because Gabby was particularly playing well. The only good thing about it is that it has happened at this time. If it happened during the season then it might be a bit different, but that’s football and that’s what we will have to deal with.”
The news is even more disheartening for the Villa faithful as star striker Darren Bent also missed the game with a thigh strain. His injury is not thought to be too serious, but having missed the last three months of the previous campaign and not playing again until the start of the tour of America, he will have to be slowly worked back to full fitness. Without Agbonlahor however, this may not be an option as the departure of Emile Heskey in the summer has left Villa short of attacking alternatives.
This week has also seen the departure of James Collins to West Ham, which many of the fans had welcomed as a good move in the transfer market by Lambert. With the arrival of Ron Vlaar there was not much to be worried about, but an injury blow to Richard Dunne has thrown Lambert’s plans for defence into chaos.
Dunne will be out for up to two months with a groin injury picked up at Euro 2012 that has had to be operated on, and it leaves Ciaran Clark and Vlaar as the only two fit centre-backs in the Villa first team. When a player arrives from another country they will usually need a strong stalwart around them to help them settle in. Irishman Dunne would have been exactly that for Vlaar, and the inexperience of Clark at senior level may cause a few nerves in the opening month or so at the heart of the Villa defence.
With these injuries hitting Villa just two weeks before the start of the season, it gives Lambert and his backroom staff little time to consider their options in the transfer market. If they are going to bring in replacements for the stricken duo they will need to act fast if Villa are to hit the ground running and kick-start Lambert’s reign.
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