Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce admits that he had no chance of stopping Jonathan Kodjia from jetting off on international duty with the Ivory Coast.
The former Hull City boss had hoped that his main striker would seek an extended rest at Bodymoor Heath after a run of four games in a fortnight following his five-month injury layoff.
Speaking to reporters, Bruce explained that the 27-year-old was desperate to contribute towards the national side, who are hoping to reach the World Cup finals in Russia next year, he said: "Ideally he could have done with staying here and not going away with the Ivory Coast. But he wants to go. It’s a big World Cup game and I can understand that. It is good to see him physically fit because he will get better and we know he is a threat. He has been out a long time. He has had a broken ankle so it is going to take a little time. But we all know his qualities."
Kodjia notched his first goal in over six months as he converted a penalty in the 1-0 win over bottom club Bolton Wanderers. As a result, the Villains have climbed to seventh in the Championship table, and they are just five points behind current leaders Cardiff City.
Meanwhile, Kodjia will also have a valuable role to play for the Ivorian national side, who could secure their World Cup berth by securing three points against both Mali and Morocco. The African heavyweights also face competition from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Gabon in the group and any drop of points could hinder their chances of reaching the World Cup finals for the fourth time in succession. Kodjia made his debut for the Ivory Coast in 2016, and he has since held an impressive record with five goals in just 10 caps for his nation.