By Noel Whelan

8th Jan, 2022 | 11:00am

Chukwuemeka tipped to dazzle in key role as Aston Villa suffer 'real blow' - pundit

Carney Chukwuemeka could “step up and impress” for Aston Villa with Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet at the African Cup of Nations, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted losing the two squad options could be a “real blow” for Steven Gerrard’s side.

Aston Villa have confirmed that Trezeguet, 27, and Traore, 26, joined up with their respective national sides on Monday (3 January) ahead of the tournament – which starts on 9 January.

The duo’s absence could leave the Midlands club short in wide areas, with Leon Bailey still unavailable through injury.

Whelan heaped praise on Villa’s youth set-up and suggested Gerrard could unearth another gem after the emergence of Jacob Ramsey this term.

“That loss of squad depth could be a real blow for Aston Villa,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

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“However, it’s a tournament which has always gone on at this time of year. Lots of sides are going to be losing more important players.

“Clubs and managers will be aware of where the gaps will be in the squad, and Steven Gerrard is no different. He’ll have planned ahead, and January is one of those months where you have to use your whole squad.

“He could go to the under 23’s. It could provide that pathway for someone to step up and impress.

“Aston Villa have got a very good set-up. We’ve seen with Jacob Ramsey and Carney Chukwuemeka that Gerrard isn’t afraid to use them. Hopefully Chukwuemeka can get more opportunities with those two away.”

Ramsey has netted two goals in 17 league games for Aston Villa this term.

Chukwuemeka has registered one assist in seven senior appearances this term.

In other news, Gabby Agbonlahor savages Aston Villa star who has “gone missing”.