Gabriel Agbonlahor axed by Aston Villa after 'shisha pipe' claims
Published 01/04/2016 | 10:15
Gabriel Agbonlahor has been dropped from Aston Villa's first team squad after the club announced an investigation into his behaviour while on holiday in Dubai.
Villa's official Twitter account confirmed that Agbonlahor would not be considered for selection for Saturday's Premier League game against Chelsea at Villa Park, with a probe into his actions now underway.
Team news: An internal investigation is currently underway. While this is being conducted, Gabby Agbonlahor will not feature. #AVFC— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) April 1, 2016
Agbonlahor has been the subject of media attention in recent days after he was pictured allegedly smoking on a shisha pipe during his holiday in the UAE.
The player made his own point on social media in the wake of the allegations, posting a picture of himself holding a bottle of water on his Instagram account:
The 29-year-old academy product has only made 15 Premier League appearances for the bottom club this season, and his future at Villa Park looks bleaker after Friday's announcement.
Agbonlahor's dropping is the latest controversy to beset Villa in a miserable season which has seen them cast adrift at the foot of the Premier League table and destined to start next season in the Championship.
Remi Garde - the club's second manager of the season - was also sacked earlier this week, to be replaced on a temporary basis by his former assistant Eric Black.
Earlier this season, Villa players Joleon Lescott and Brad Guzan had to apologise after a heated confrontation with fans during an FA Cup tie at Wycombe.
Caretaker manager Eric Black, in charge after Remi Garde left on Tuesday, said: "There's an internal investigation. I spoke to (board member) David Bernstein at length (on Thursday) and the club have taken a decision. I have taken a decision on the footballing side to remove him from the squad, purely because I don't want anything to distract the players.
"I'll speak to him again on Monday and then we'll take it from there. He's back in and reporting for training.
"I'm not going to go into the details because the investigation is on going. I want us to get back to football and football alone."
Black made the call to remove Agbonlahor after the club's new football board, headed by former Football Association chairman Bernstein, launched an investigation.
Club captain Agbonlahor will train with the squad on Friday but will take no part in their overnight preparations ahead of the visit of the defending champions. He will be due back on Monday and is expected to again link up with the first team.
He was pictured with Micah Richards, but the defender will be included against Chelsea.
Black added: "I have spoken to Micah. It's slightly different circumstances and he's in the squad."
Agbonlahor, Villa's longest-serving current player, signed a four-year contract in 2014 but has scored just once this season with Villa 12 points from safety. They appear set to be relegated from the top flight for the first time since 1987.
Adama Traore (foot) and Jack Grealish (ankle) could return to fill the void left by Agbonlahor, but Libor Kozak (ankle) and Jordan Amavi (knee) are out.