By Dominic Toner
Stan Collymore has voiced his concern on Twitter about the depth of Aston Villa’s squad after Christmas.
Three key players Jonathan Kodjia, Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede are all in contention to miss several key fixtures during January due to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Villa’s Ayew has been named in Ghana’s latest squad and they have already qualified for the tournament, which takes place in Gabon between 14 January until 5 February in 2017.
New signing Kodjia from Ivory Coast and Gestede, who plays for Benin, are in line to compete for their nations in the crucial final round of qualifiers from their groups that take place on the 3rd and 4th of September.
Pundit and former Villa player Collymore has pointed out on his personal Twitter account that the three players could be missing from several Villa games midway through the Championship season.
African Cup of Nations in Jan?#UTV
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) August 30, 2016
The worst case scenario for Roberto Di Matteo is that the trio miss a maximum of five league fixtures against Wolves, Preston, Bristol City, Brentford and Nottingham Forest which all take place whilst the Cup of Nations takes place.
However national team managers could demand early arrivals of the players, potentially leaving Villa without them for the first match of 2017 against Cardiff on 2 January.
The reigning champions of the competition Ivory Coast face a match against Sudan on 3 September, with the winner to progress as group winners.
Gestede’s Benin also need a result against Mali and could top their group with a win, as their opponents have already guaranteed a place in the competition by having 13 points and certain to qualify at least as a best runner-up.
Di Matteo may be worried about the possibility of losing three first-team players although he has not yet had the chance to work with the club’s new recruit Kodjia.
Villa announced the signing of the 26-year-old forward from Bristol City on their website on Tuesday afternoon.
He has scored 19 goals in 52 matches in all competitions for City, including an impressive 18 league goals last season, and has left the club after just one year in the south west following his move from Angers.
Pairing Ayew and Gestede were both relegated from the Premier League last season but have remained at Villa Park and featured heavily at the start of the new season.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, Tony Xia has outlined the club’s transfer plan before the window closes.