Aston Villa has 6 games in December, culminating in 4 over the space of 10 days at the end of the month. Such a run of fixtures will test an already injury-hit squad and the need for clever squad rotation will important in maximising the performances of the players. A lot of those injuries are in the striking department so those who get fit first could well get a real chance to stake a claim in the first team.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy should feature for the Villa first team in December providing he can get fully fit. He is set to return to action on Thursday for the Under 23’s. All being well, Hepburn-Murphy should expect to see himself in the squad for the Christmas fixtures. This would give him three U’23 games and a further 3 weeks in which to regain match sharpness.
Even if Hepburn-Murphy does score goals, it seems certain that Bruce will still add another striker to his squad in the January transfer window. With Kodjia out for several months, Gabriel Agbonlahor unable to remain fit for any significant period of time and Scott Hogan’s struggle for goals, the club will need another option for the second half of the season.
The upcoming workload is a lot to ask of young Keinan Davis and he will need to be rested and managed intelligently over the coming weeks. Not only do we have to hope he stays fit but because of his age consistency could prove an issue for us.
If anything were to happen to him, then Villa would have to play without a recognised striker on the pitch. This is something we have experienced during brief spells in a previous couple of games where Steve Bruce has wisely withdrawn Davis to protect him. However, it is unclear how the team would perform for a full 90 minutes in this position.
Moving Albert Adomah into a central role seems the most suitable option if this were to happen. However, the team would surely lack Adomah’s ability to cut in from the left and find himself the benefit of Davis’s hold up play. The other option would be to play with a false 9. This would see the promotion of Jack Grealish or Callum O’Hare to a more advanced role alongside Onomah. This could be an exciting mix of youthful exuberance providing a different and potentially exciting option.
This is all, of course, a hypothetical situation. Yet with key injuries to Kodjia, Mile Jedinak and John Terry all occurring within two weeks of each other, it certainly could be a possible scenario that the club finds themselves in. Let’s hope for positive news and to keep the good run going.