Villa boss Bruce to hand Agbonlahor career lifeline

Date published: Friday 14th October 2016 8:20

Gabriel Agbonlahor: Slate wiped clean

New Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce is ready to hand outcast Gabby Agbonlahor a career lifeline.

The 55-year-old will wipe the slate clean for the former club captain who has been banished from the first-team squad this season.

Agbonlahor had been training on his own after being left in the cold by former boss Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked after 12 games last week, and has not played for the club since March.

Ex-England international Agbonlahor, who turned 30 on Thursday, was also dropped from the squad at the end of last season having been deemed unfit by former caretaker boss Eric Black.

He rejected a deadline-day move to Reading but will train with the first team under Bruce who is happy to judge the club’s record Premier League goalscorer himself.

He said: “I’m not really interested in what has happened in the past. As far as I’m concerned this is under my remit.

“Of course managers get problems to deal with but at this moment in time I’ve got none. I’ve only been here for 24 hours and as far as I’m concerned the slate is wiped clean for all of them.

“We start again tomorrow. That obviously means Gabby too. He’s had his problems and it’s fair to say he and I have got to get him into some condition, but that applies to him too.”

Agbonlahor has scored once for Villa in the last 17 months and will not be considered until he is fully fit, meaning he will not feature in Bruce’s first game against Wolves on Saturday.

Bruce, who has been joined at Villa by first-team coach Stephen Clemence, returned to management after leaving Hull in July following a disagreement over their transfer policy having already had an interview for the England job.

He lost out to Sam Allardyce, who left the post after 67 days following a Daily Telegraph investigation into corruption with Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate handed the role for the rest of the year.

Bruce admitted he did not expect to get a call again but would not rule out being interested in the future.

He said: “No, because it happened that quick they announced Gareth within 24 hours. I think they made it pretty clear. I never thought anything of it.

“I was so flattered. I am English and I was so flattered to get an interview.

“I didn’t quite make it and I’ve never really thought about it. When the opportunity came with a phone call from there then it was one of those where the opportunity comes and you take it.

“You can’t really look in a crystal ball at what’s going to happen. It is all about timing in football. I was flattered and enjoyed the interview, didn’t quite get it, but in the future, who knows?”

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