By Danny Wright

Steve Bruce on Friday admitted that Jonathan Kodjia’s absence against Birmingham will hand their rivals with a big advantage.

The striker was sent off in Villa’s 3-1 defeat to Fulham on Monday and will serve a one-match suspension, something which Bruce thinks could have a major impact on Sunday’s fixture.

The 56-year-old thinks that Harry Redknapp, who is taking charge of his first Birmingham match, and his men will be buoyed by the exclusion of their top goal scorer.

The Ivory Coast international has found the net 19 times in 39 league appearances this season for Villa.

“Kodjia will be missing. It’s a huge advantage to Birmingham. He’s been arguably our best player,” said Bruce in his pre-match press conference on Friday, as quoted by Villa’s official Twitter account.

Since January, Villa have only won two games in which Kodjia has failed to find the net and he has contributed to 42 per cent of their league goals this season.

Bruce is well aware of what’s at stake in the second-city derby as he spent six years as Birmingham boss and earned two promotions to the Premier League.

A Villa win in the second-city derby will be made even sweeter if Nottingham Forest and Blackburn can win their respective fixtures to put Blues in the Championship’s relegation zone.

In other Aston Villa news, Redknapp has made a big statement about Bruce’s side.

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