By Gabriel Agbonlahor

30th Jul, 2022 | 7:49am

Leon Bailey tipped for new Aston Villa role after pre-season development - Agbonlahor

Gabby Agbonlahor has backed Leon Bailey to play in a “number eight” role for Aston Villa this season after his impressive pre-season form.

The former Claret and Blue striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 24-year-old’s versatility will give Steven Gerrard “another dimension” this term.

Bailey was signed by Dean Smith last summer (2021) but played just 754 minutes of football during the 2021-22 season, scoring once.

The Jamaica international has notched two goals already in pre-season and added another assist ahead of Aston Villa’s opening day fixture against Bournemouth on 6 August.

Gerrard often used a 4-4-2 diamond last term after taking over in November 2021 – utilising narrow strikers and midfielders.

Agbonlahor backed Bailey to “tuck in” if Villa play without traditional wingers again this season.

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“He’s an option for Steven Gerrard,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“He’s gonna want that flexibility from players like Bailey.

“As much as Gerrard likes to play number eights instead of wingers in that narrow system, I feel like Bailey could play that role. He can tuck in.

“When I played, I played as an eight, as a striker, as a winger – and players are more versatile now than ever.

“It gives Gerrard another dimension, and it’s competition. That’s all he would have wanted going into this summer, and now he’s got it in abundance.”

Bailey notched 15 goals and 11 assists in 40 games for Bayer Leverkusen in the season prior to joining Aston Villa last summer (2021).

Gerrard’s side finished 14th in the Premier League last term.

In other news, pundit tells Aston Villa to complete midfielder signing after manager’s reveal.