Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Gerrard echoes familiar Klopp gripe; labels Villa star better than him at 20

Steven Gerrard, Aston Villa manager addresses the media

Steven Gerrard echoed the thoughts of Jurgen Klopp on the issue of player safety, and labelled an Aston Villa star better than he was at 20.

The Premier League is once again beginning to struggle under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fixture cancellations have become increasingly common over the last few weeks. Looking ahead to the weekend, five of the 10 matches have already been postponed.

With the Omicron variant sweeping the nation, the number of Premier League players and staff members receiving positive tests has spiked.

That has led to squads being stretched for the games that do go ahead – something that is putting extra strain on player welfare at the most hectic time of the season.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been vocal on the subject of player welfare in the past.

Klopp has derided the sheer volume of fixtures players must play in the modern game. He has also been a critic of the influence television broadcasters have on the timing of kick-offs – which can reduce the gaps between matches to as low as two-and-a-half days.

Top-flight managers will speak with the Premier League on Monday, with captains also holding talks with each other, and Gerrard is eager to highlight player safety.

“Not just a Covid situation” – Gerrard

He said in his Friday press conference: “Player welfare has to be taken into consideration here. This is not just a Covid situation, this is what comes on the back of it.

“We’re having to use more players for more games and more minutes because we’ve got some players missing with Covid. That puts more strain and stress on the players individually and you pick up more injuries on the back of that.

Aston Villa striker Wesley likely on the move in January.

Aston Villa striker Wesley likely on the move in January.

Aston Villa striker Wesley, currently on loan at Club Brugge, will likely be on the move once again in January, given his lack of game time.

“We’re at the time of year where, naturally, there are more colds and bugs, and there’s that paranoia that while they maybe haven’t had a positive test yet, are they going to have a positive test in a few days? Do you then take them out of the environment to protect others?

“There’s all kinds of concerns and situations going on at the moment. I just hope the Premier League and the powers that be take player welfare into consideration.”

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Villa youngster better than Gerrard at 20

Villa’s clash with Burnley is one of just two Premier League fixtures scheduled to go ahead on Saturday.

However, Keinan Davis, Marvelous Nakamba, Morgan Sanson, Anwar El Ghazi, Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey are all out of contention to feature with a variety of problems.

Jacob Ramsey is poised to start again after his impressive scoring performance in the 2-0 win at Norwich on Tuesday.

The midfielder has started five of Gerrard’s six games in charge and the former England midfielder believes Ramsey is already better than he was at the same age.

He said: “He’s already a force. I think he’s a fantastic talent. At such a young age, you can see he plays with maturity, he’s got a really good game understanding and I think he’s further ahead than I was at 20.

“If he keeps, wanting to grow, develop and evolve, I’ve got no doubt that he can add big numbers to his game in terms of goals and assists.

“It’s always nice to have homegrown players in your team because they have that connection to the supporters and know what the fans demand and want here at Villa.

“Without putting too much pressure on the kid – you can see him moving through the international age groups at speed – if he keeps consistency in his game, I think he can go all the way to the top.”

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