Gabriel Agbonlahor has admitted it is a big blow for Aston Villa to be without Ross Barkley for their clash against Wolves on Saturday.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, Villa’s top Premier League goalscorer was adamant the club should not rush the 27-year-old back given Villa’s busy December schedule.
The Chelsea loanee has been missing since limping off with a hamstring injury against Brighton & Hove Albion last month.
With Villa given an extra week to prepare for the trip to Wolves after their game with Newcastle United was postponed, there was hope Barkley could return.
However, Dean Smith confirmed to VillaTV earlier this week that he will not play any part in the Midlands Derby at Molineux.
Asked by Football Insider whether it was a devastating blow to still be without Barkley, Agbonlahor said: “Definitely.
“You don’t want to rush him back. You’ve seen what Arsenal did with Thomas Partey, he looked like he might have come back too soon.
“You can’t rush players back. Ross Barkley will know when he’s ready to return and I feel like he’s the sort of player who needs to be fully fit to get the best out of him so you don’t want to rush him back.
“You’ve got an adequate replacement in Conor Hourihane who for me, did well last game and when he’s played this season.
“There are so many games after Wolves they play on Thursday and Sunday so there are loads of games. I’m sure Dean Smith will be thinking ‘let’s not rush Barkley back and have him missing for those games as well’.”
Villa host Burnley on Thursday evening before travelling to West Brom for another Midlands derby the following Sunday.
In other Aston Villa news, Alan Hutton is terrified by two Wolves players ahead of Saturday’s game.