Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has revealed that Jonathan Kodjia could be restricted to a bench role having only recently recovered from an injury. The Ivorian is arguably the Villain’s biggest goal threat, but Bruce is not taking the risk of throwing him straight into the line-up with the club’s automatic promotion hopes more or less over.
He said: “We’re playing catch-up with him. So it’s a case of, can he give us a spark off the bench? It was a lot to ask at the weekend. You can see that he’s short at the moment and why wouldn’t he be? He’s had a re-operation after the original one in the summer (on his ankle) so we’ll go easy with him that’s for sure. Kodjia wants to play, that’s just him, but he’s going to need some time.”
A fully fit Kodjia would surely make a significant different to Villa’s fortunes, but Bruce is, for now, leaving him in reserve with a view to the play-offs. The west Midlands side have gone through a lean patch over recent weeks which have seen them drop ten points behind second-placed Cardiff City, and they may now have to rely on the lottery of the play-off in order to achieve top-flight promotion.
The clubs behind them including Derby County and Middlesbrough have not been in the best vein of scoring form of late, but the Villains would still have to cope with the threat of Fulham, who have by far been the most consistent side in the Championship during the second half of the season. The Cottagers suffered a rather disappointing semi-final defeat last term after making a similar push for the play-offs, and manager Slavisa Jokanovic will be hoping that his team can do better this time around with the vast array of attacking talent within the squad.