Life After the Boubacar Kamara Injury
As the realisation sinks in that Aston Villa will be without Boubacar Kamara for potentially at least a month, due to his latest injury sustained in the recent win against Crystal Palace, thoughts turn to who Unai Emery will replace him with.
Emery has never known life without Kamara in his Villa match day squad. With the talented French midfielder returning from his first serious injury this season to make a 12-minute substitute appearance against Manchester United, in Emery’s first game in charge, before starting every league game.
Judging from the evidence of the Villa boss’s desire to play out from the back, Kamara certainly adds guile and dimension to implement Emery’s style in a more heighten fashion. This is the main problem of his absence, will it ultimately hinder such an evolution in style, in the short-term?
Leon Dendoncker lined up alongside Douglas Luiz in the long overdue home win over Manchester United, and you’d expect the Belgian international to do so again, when he returns back to squad, after missing out against Palace due to undeclared personal circumstances.
If he doesn’t, then the mantel will probably pass to Callum Chambers, who is no stranger to the defensive midfielder position – playing in the position for Fulham in the Premier League, when he was on loan there.
Both players, while providing sufficient cover in a defensive sense, perhaps lack the attributes of Kamara, in terms of having a more dynamic contribution going forward. Due to this, you’d expect Douglas Luiz to take up more responsibility in terms of breaking Villa out of their own half into attack.
Villa at least have options that fit the position and will hopefully resist the temptation to bring John McGinn back into a deeper position.
McGinn is currently on an improved run of form, playing further up in the pitch. Supporters calling for him to play alongside Luiz, are perhaps forgetting their earlier calls for him to play further forward. The Scottish international is currently playing in his best position and you benefit from him more in all areas of the pitch, when the emphasis of his play is to make things happen further forward rather than to control play.
Bar a mistake in the FA Cup game with Stevenage, which wasn’t 100% down to him, Dendoncker tends to be tidy at the back and can play the way Emery is demanding. He also matches the physical profile of Kamara in terms of adding height to the Villa team. A run of games to get into a rhythm would serve him well.
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Kamara’s Injury Duration
In terms of the duration of Kamara’s injury, Villa will at least take some comfort in the fact there is an international break offering a potential fortnight injury buffer, at the end of the month.
There still doesn’t seem to be a consistent public diagnosis as to whether it is an ankle injury. Initially, Emery stated in his post-match debrief that: “It’s the joint between the two bones in the leg. It’s not a clear diagnosis. We will have the assessment tomorrow [Sunday]. It’s not the ankle or the Achilles.”
A clearer picture will no doubt be presented later in the week, at the press conference before the away trip to West Ham. Ultimately, the important fact is how long he’ll be out.
The stakes for this season are perhaps not the highest, with a mid-table finish the expectation now. If Villa were legitimately pushing for the European spots, they certainly would have been mourning the absence of the likes of Kamara, Diego Carlos and Philippe Coutinho.
Still, the motivation of this season is very much to act as a rehearsal for the next one, when Emery will start the season from scratch and with another transfer window behind him. Opportunity certainly knocks for the likes of Dendoncker and Chambers to be part of those plans and Kamara’s absence can’t be used as an excuse in the upcoming games against the likes of West Ham and Bournemouth.