A vital point towards safety, or another missed opportunity? Whichever way you look at it, Aston Villa are now very much involved in the scrap for Premier League survival after another draw against Sunderland on Saturday afternoon. They now sit just five points above 18th-place Blackburn Rovers with four games left of what has been a very poor season for the Midlands club. Alex McLeish praised the efforts of his players after the game, but unfortunately for Villa, their injury curse struck again as two more of their senior players were forced off, leaving McLeish short of options as the season draws to a close.
James Collins and Gabriel Agbonlahor were the two injured players this time round, Collins picking up a groin injury, while stand-in captain Agbonlahor injured his shoulder late in the first-half, which would eventually lead to his withdrawal early in the second period. Agbonlahor is a major doubt for the game against Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night at Villa Park, whereas Collins will almost certainly not be fit in time.
Villa have been plagued by injuries throughout the season, with almost every senior first team player facing a spell out at some point along the way. They have had to cope without their main goal threat Darren Bent for the last two months and will continue to miss the England striker for the remaining four fixtures as he struggles to recover from the damage done to his ankle ligaments during a game against Wigan Athletic in late February. Fabian Delph, a player who Villa fans had expected big things from this year, has been another to suffer with injury, an ankle problem keeping him out since February, suffered on loan at former club Leeds United.
Delph will not feature again for the Villans this season as they battle against relegation, and neither will club captain Stiliyan Petrov, who faces his own personal battle after being diagnosed with Leukaemia late on in March. Richard Dunne has also been missing for a substantial period this season, with the broken collarbone he suffered in the game against Manchester City keeping him out since February 12th.
Villa go into arguably their most vital game of the season on Tuesday against fellow strugglers Bolton with seven senior first team players most likely to miss out. Dunne, Bent, Petrov and Delph are certain to be absent, whilst Ciaran Clark, Agbonlahor and Collins remain doubtful. With Villa failing to gain all three points against Sunderland, and Blackburn Rovers and Queens Park Rangers picking up impressive wins against opposition better placed in the Premier League table, it is a game Villa must win if they are to stay clear of the relegation dogfight. This latest round of injuries will not help towards this end, but Villa must remain in high spirits and believe that their squad players can pull them through during this tough time for the club.
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