By Gabriel Agbonlahor

10th Mar, 2021 | 5:00pm

Barkley driving Smith and Terry up the wall with miserable Bodymoor Heath efforts - Agbonlahor's Villa view

Gabriel Agbonlahor has suggested Ross Barkley has been omitted from the Aston Villa starting XI in recent weeks because of his performances and enthusiasm in training.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Aston Villa captain admitted he has been frustrated with the 27-year-old in recent weeks and expected him to come into his own after Jack Grealish’s injury.

Barkley has now not started Villa’s last three Premier League games and has had little impact off the substitutes bench.

Football Insider revealed last week Dean Smith is still weighing up whether to pursue a £35million transfer for the Chelsea loanee but Agbonlahor has insisted his recent showings are making Smith’s decision for him.

Asked why Barkley is struggling to start games, Agbonlahor told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley: “Dean Smith will pick players that he thinks deserves to play, the players that train the best.

“Managers nowadays are big on that, if you train well, you play on the weekend. If you’re not training as hard as the others, showing that enthusiasm, then you won’t start.

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“I don’t know if that’s the case for Barkley but maybe Dean Smith hasn’t seen enough from him when he comes on. If you’re picking a team for Newcastle you’re 50/50 on whether you start him because against Wolves when he came on he didn’t do anything. 

“It’s frustrating with Barkley. I really like the player in there and he’s the sort of player you want in your team because he can make something happen, he can get past players and shoot with both feet and score goals. 

“We’re not seeing that Barkley at the moment and when Jack’s out injured you want to see it even more with him because he could’ve been to the key for us getting results when Jack’s been injured but he’s not really done it.

“Dean Smith will be frustrated, John Terry will be frustrated and if he wants to come back to Villa in the summer, if it’s £35million that it will cost, I can’t see Villa paying that at the moment. His performances will have to improve a lot for Villa to even think of paying that money.”

In other news, Aston Villa have set their sights on signing the “next Grealish” this summer.