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Peter Withe: This is what will prevent Aston Villa 27-year-old from reaching the top level

By Matt Farr

Aston Villa hero Peter Withe believes goalscorer Jonathan Kodjia must improve his awareness before he can reach the top level.

Kodjia, 27, was in sensational form for Aston Villa this season, scoring 19 goals from 40 appearances in the Championship, topping the club’s goalscoring charts by some distance.

The Ivory Coast international needed just one more goal to become the first Aston Villa player since Withe to score 20 league goals in a single season, only to see his season cut short with injury.

Kodjia suffered a broken ankle during Villa’s penultimate game of the season against Blackburn, and now faces up to six months on the sidelines, and will miss the start of the next season.

But Withe commended the striker for his efforts this season, and issued him with a challenge ahead of his eventual return to full fitness.

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He told the Birmingham Mail: “Kodjia’s one of those that if you played up front with him he could frustrate you at times. He could pick you out but he’s got one thing on his mind and that’s scoring goals, which is a good thing.

“But the best players, the ones who climb to the top, are the ones who see both things and make the right decision.

“It’s about saying ‘Look, this is the opportunity here. You can take the chance but if someone’s in a better position than you and we can get a goal because of it then you have to see that as well.”

Withe had achieved his record during the 1980-81 season, when Aston Villa were crowned First Division champions.

Aston Villa have heavily relied on Kodjia this season, with few of his team-mates offering much on the goalscoring front, which will be an area of concern for manager Steve Bruce ahead of next season.

Scott Hogan was signed in January to ease the goalscoring burden, but the former Brentford striker struggled with injuries and only managed just one goal from 13 appearances.

Meanwhile, Jack Grealish finished as the second-highest goalscorer for Villa with five goals.

Rudy Gestede (four), Ross McCormack and Jordan Ayew (both three) also chipped in, but were all shipped out of the club in January.

In other Aston Villa news, talks have been scheduled over the future of this 24-year-old fringe player.

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