By Gabriel Agbonlahor

5th Jan, 2021 | 1:41pm

'Dangerous' - Agbonlahor Exclusive: This may be Real Reason for Barkley's Villa absence

Gabriel Agbonlahor has suggested Aston Villa attacker Ross Barkley has not been risked in recent weeks because of the club’s fine recent form.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, Villa’s record Premier League goalscorer claimed the 27-year-old may have played if the club were “struggling”.

Barkley has not featured for Dean Smith’s side since he limped off with a hamstring injury in the opening stage of their 2-1 defeat to Brighton on November 21.

The Midlands giants hoped the England international would miss just a couple of weeks of action but Smith revealed this week he is not sure Barkley will be ready for Friday night’s FA Cup tie with Liverpool.

Asked by Football Insider whether he was worried about Barkley’s continued absence, Agbonlahor said: “With hamstring injuries, sometimes you can be ready to come back and you’re in the last part of your rehab and you start back training you might feel it a little bit. 

“I reckon that’s probably what has happened. He’s feeling it a little bit so they don’t want to risk it. 

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“If you come back too soon with hamstrings you can do it again and be out for another six weeks.

“I think because the team is doing so well they’re not in a risk to get him back.

“It would be different if they were really struggling and they needed him really badly.

“At the moment they’re not showing they need him so they want to make sure it’s right because hamstrings are dangerous ones that you’ve got to make sure are 100 per cent.

“If he’s doing sprints and if he’s doing the last bits of his rehab and he can feel it a little bit then they’ll take their time because you can’t push through a hamstring injury.

“I’ve tried in the past and that’s something you cannot do.”

In other news, a top pundit has tipped Aston Villa to agree a new contract with a sensation after Euro giants move.