Aston Villa manager

Gabriel Agbonlahor has tipped Ross Barkley to return to the Aston Villa starting XI against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, the legendary former Villa striker claimed the 27-year-old will replace either Bertrand Traore or Anwar El Ghazi with Jack Grealish returning to the left-wing.

Barkley has not featured for Dean Smith’s side since he limped off with a hamstring injury in the opening minutes of Villa’s 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion last month.

Manager Dean Smith confirmed earlier this week the attacker will resume full training this week and could be available on Saturday.

With Villa travelling to Barkley’s parent club Chelsea days after they host Palace, Agbonlahor has insisted this weekend’s game is perfect for him to return.

He told Football Insider“I think he might play Barkley next game because we play Chelsea after that and he can’t play.

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“That might be a reason why Barkley comes back into it and he rests Traore or El Ghazi and maybe puts Jack back on the left.

“Whoever gets rested will come back in against Chelsea – it’s about using your squad.

“The main thing is Barkley cannot play against Chelsea so I’m sure he’ll play in this game if he’s fit.”

Barkley had started all of Villa’s game he was available for before he suffered his hamstring injury in November.

He scored his only goal for Smith’s side in their incredible 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool on his debut.

In other news, Darren Bent has tipped a “great” Aston Villa player he knows well to join Newcastle United.