Gabriel Agbonlahor has claimed Ross Barkley should be limited to a cameo from the bench on his potential Aston Villa return against Manchester City this Wednesday.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the legendary former Villa forward delivered his verdict as the club released pictures of the England international back in full training ahead of the visit to the Etihad.
Barkley has not featured for Dean Smith’s side since limping off with a hamstring injury in the early stages of their 2-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion at the end of November.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) January 19, 2021
The Midlands giants have managed to win three and drawn two of the seven league games he has missed.
Wingers Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore have stepped up in Barkley’s absence – they have scored a combined eight goals in the last seven games.
With Jack Grealish undroppable, Agbonlahor has claimed it is difficult to justify throwing Barkley straight back in.
He told Football Insider: “I did think he might start but I still think the team that has been playing will continue to start.
“I think it will be the same team Traore, El Ghazi, Watkins, Grealish, John McGinn and Douglas Luiz. It would be harsh on those players for Barkley to come straight back in.
“But he’ll be probably thinking give Barkley 30 minutes and then start him against Newcastle on the weekend. That will be more of an option I think.
“It’s a tough game to come back into and start as well when you’ve not played a game for so long.”
Barkley had been an ever-present for Villa until his hamstring injury and had scored two goals and provided one assist in his seven Premier League games.
The 27-year-old moved to Villa Park from Chelsea on a season-long loan deal in September.
In other news, Football Insider can reveal a transfer has collapsed after a U-turn from an Aston Villa player.