By Will Butcher
Steve Bruce must keep Mile Jedinak fit if Aston Villa are to continue their climb towards the playoffs.
The combative midfielder was in excellent form against Brighton on Friday night during his side’s 1-1 draw away from home, despite playing for Australia in Thailand just three days beforehand.
Jedinak, who scored a brace for the Socceroos from the penalty spot against Thailand, miraculously saw out the entire 90 minutes as Bruce’s side secured an important point.
Marshalling the space between Villa’s midfield and defence, Jedinak was in excellent form as he blocked out the Brighton attack which included the likes of Anthony Knockaert, Sam Baldock and Jiri Skalak.
But with no other players in the Midlands giants’ squad capable of sitting in between the defence and midfield with the combative edge that Jedinak provides, Bruce must keep him fit.
Ashley Westwood is not strong enough to be able to play in a defensive midfield role, while Gary Gardner is known for his box-to-box work ethic.
Without the Australia captain, Villa would look a lot less sturdy and Bruce must learn to be stricter when it comes to Jedinak’s international duties as well as his training schedule.
Jedinak is set to feature for Bruce’s side next Saturday against Cardiff, as the former Hull City and Sunderland manager looks to continue his unbeaten start to life at Villa Park.
The run now stretches to six games, after picking up wins against Blackburn, Fulham and Reading and sit just four points away from sixth placed Leeds.
In other Aston Villa news, this summer signing needs to be replaced sooner rather than later.