Sport Soccer

Monday 28 May 2018

Gabriel Agbonlahor battles for Aston Villa future after being told to shape up

Gabriel Agbonlahor will not be considered for selection until he proves his fitness at Aston Villa
Gabriel Agbonlahor will not be considered for selection until he proves his fitness at Aston Villa

Gabriel Agbonlahor could have played his last game for Aston Villa after caretaker boss Eric Black hinted his exile may last longer than two weeks.

The club captain has been dropped from the first team and put on a personal fitness plan for a fortnight after talks with Black saw the pair agree he was not up to scratch.

Agbonlahor is Villa's longest-serving current player, having made his debut in 2006, and is their record Premier League goalscorer but has netted just once in the last year.

He struggled to adapt to former manager Remi Garde's training methods and, with Villa set to be relegated on Saturday, could be allowed to leave in the summer having been linked with a move away in January.

Black said: "It won't be totally up to me (if Agbonlahor plays again). It will be in terms of selection but I now need to see an improvement on his fitness.

"He was in when the players were off on Wednesday, he's doing another individual session tomorrow, he's with the under-21s on Saturday.

"If I see an improvement, he's paid by Aston Villa to play football, and if he gets to a level there's no reason why I wouldn't (pick him)."

But Black hinted the initial two-week spell could be extended if Agbonlahor fails to improve sufficiently.

Black said: "I just said that together we needed to get to a level where he can contribute in the Premier League. That was the end of the conversation. Until that time he won't be involved in the first-team squad."

The forward was ruled out of last Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth after calling in sick with a virus 24 hours before the game.

It was the second straight match he missed after Black left him out of the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea as the club investigated his conduct during a holiday to Dubai last month before taking no further action.

Rock-bottom Villa will be relegated from the Barclays Premier League on Saturday if Norwich avoid defeat to Sunderland or if Villa themselves fail to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The club are currently looking for a new manager after Garde left last month, with Nigel Pearson, David Moyes and Mick McCarthy all linked.

Press Association

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