Steve Bruce had already been planning for the start of the season without two of his main men from last season. Jonathan Kodjia and Mile Jedinak spend the summer recovering from surgery, but the Villa manager’s plans were further stifled once Jack Grealish picked up a freak injury in the final pre-season game against Watford.
As MOMS had previously reported, the purchase of Glenn Whelan had provided Bruce with the impetus to have a look at a 4-2-3-1 formation as an option for the new season.
Grealish was to be one of the leading contenders for the key central attacking midfield role. You could say, he was actually in pole position, in front of the likes of Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury, by starting against Watford last weekend.
Bruce today declared that Grealish will potentially be out for longer than the two-three month lay-off originally thought, and will be lucky to play this year.
“My system in pre-season was geared around Grealish and how to get the best out of him,” said Bruce.
“So that’s a bit of a disappointment for us but that’s football.
“He’s still in hospital and things aren’t great.”
The attacking midfield berth could still be filled by Conor Hourihane, a player that Bruce seemed to cool his early enthusiasm for last season. Now, it’s up to Hourihane to step up and get Bruce onside again.
In terms of Bruce having a full pack to play with, the club announced today that Jonathan Kodjia is still a month away from returning, which is a real concern, considering Bruce seems to be lining up Gabby Agbonlahor to lead the line at the start of the season.
Mile Jedinak is a fortnight away from his return, having been recovering from surgery over the summer.
Meanwhile, Albert Adomah is closing in on returning to the squad and has been declared ‘close to fitness’.
It should be interesting to see how the battle to play on Villa’s right-hand side pans out on his return, with the signing of Ahmed Elmohamady providing him with direct competition.
Regarding all the current injuries, one thing is clear, there are no excuses this season for failing on the mission of promotion. The squad is big enough to cope.
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