With a squad down on their luck, and suffering through illness and injury, this week’s break from action may yet prove to be a blessing in disguise for Paul Lambert and his young team.
With the FA Cup fixtures being played this weekend, a competition which Aston Villa are no longer involved thanks to a 2-1 loss away to Championship side Milwall, it has given a chance to welcome back one or two of the players who missed the crucial victory over West Ham United last weekend.
Gabriel Agbonlahor and Karim El Ahmadi both missed the game through a sickness bug which almost kept Ashley Westwood out of the squad as well. He was substituted late on in the match, and looked out of sorts throughout the game.
With Richard Dunne, Marc Albrighton and Gary Gardner also closing in on returns to the first team setup after long spells out injured, it will give Lambert a greater choice as he looks to find a way to help Villa climb the Premier League table.
Regarding his club’s weekend without action, Lambert said: “We have got this breather now after what has been a hectic period. There have also been lads with their various national teams, it will give them a break. It will also let people like Gabby and Charles recover from injury and illness.”
Without a game to focus on, the attention seems to have fallen from the media at what will happen to Villa’s squad at the end of the season if they fail to survive in the top tier of English football.
Christian Benteke’s name has come up throughout the season as one player that might leave at the end of the current campaign, with the young Belgian impressing in his debut season. He has scored 15 goals so far this season in all competitions, in a team that has only scored 25 in the Premier League for the whole for the whole of the current campaign.
Paul Lambert has declared that it would take a bid of more than double what he paid for Benteke, which was a fee of almost £7 million, to even consider selling the Belgian International. A price of around £15 million may well prove to be a shrewd piece of business for one of the teams higher up in the league, as a striker to show as much composure and talent as he has so far is very hard to come by.
If the worst did happen and Villa were to go down, Benteke may well not be the only one to leave Villa Park. Stephen Ireland looks almost certain to leave following his failure to even reach Aston Villa’s match squad against West Ham a week ago. He has also been made to train with the youth development team at Aston Villa in recent weeks and not Villa‘s first team, as his effort and determination for the cause seem to have been questioned by manager Paul Lambert.
With Fabian Delph, Darren Bent, Shay Given, Charles N’Zogbia, and loaned player Jean Makoun also on high wages, a relegation may well force the sale of most of those players, leaving Villa’s squad very light and lacking in any real talent. These next 12 games will determine Villa’s fate, as survival this year in the Premier League is crucial for the Midlands team.
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