By Harry Sykes
Steve Bruce is revealed that it is the “ideal time” to give game time to Rushian Hepburn-Murphy for Aston Villa as Jonathan Kodjia is set for a spell on the sidelines.
The Villa manager is ready to place his faith in the rookie centre-forward after Kodjia was handed a straight red card 22 minutes into the team’s 3-1 defeat at Fulham on Monday.
The Midlands club’s leading scorer was dismissed after appearing to kick Ryan Fredericks as the pair tussled for a loose ball.
Bruce admitted that Kodjia was out of order although he felt a red card was harsh and believes that young gun Hepburn-Murphy is the player who could now benefit.
“It’s an ideal time to have a look at him,” Bruce said of the young striker to the official Villa website in the aftermath of defeat to Fulham.
“Obviously Jon could get a ban so Rushian could feature. We now have a big game to look forward to next week – and it’s all to play for.”
Bruce had fielded two strikers in a 3-5-2 formation at Craven Cottage but Kodjia’s early dismissal gave his side an uphill task they could not climb despite Jack Grealish’s second-half equaliser.
“It was an act of petulance from Jon.” Bruce told the Villa website. “He was provoked. He’s reacted.
“If they have to send Jon off, they have to send their player off too. In my opinion, it was handbags stuff and the yellow card was warranted for both of them.
“But to get the red card was cruel on us.”
It was Villa’s second consecutive Championship defeat after they slumped to the same scoreline at Reading on Saturday.
Hepburn-Murphy joined the action after 78 minutes at Craven Cottage as a replacement for left wing-back Jordan Amavi.
It was the teenager’s fifth senior Villa appearance and only his third in the Championship, with his game time amounting to just 24 minutes in the competition.
In other Aston Villa news, talks are to get underway as a proven Premier League performer wants to join the Midlands club.