By support

15th Apr, 2017 | 8:33am

Steve Bruce issues challenge to Aston Villa attacker, this is where he must improve

By Matt Farr

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has challenged Gabby Agbonlahor to improve his physical fitness.

Agbonlahor, 30, could make his return from a two-month spell on the sidelines against Reading on Saturday, but Bruce has challenged the attacker to prove his long-term fitness.

The long-serving Villa Park ace has been limited to just 11 first-team appearances in the Championship this season, and has not featured since January 21 due to a hamstring injury.

But he had struggled to prove his fitness at the start of the season to then-manager Roberto Di Matteo, and did not make a single appearance under the former Aston Villa chief.

He was also plagued with injuries last season, missing large parts of the Premier League calendar due to a calf injury.

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His first appearance of the current campaign came off the bench in a 1-1 draw with Midlands rivals Birmingham on October 30, Bruce’s fourth game in charge.

But Bruce insists Agbonlahor is still an important part of his plans, revealing what it will take for him to earn his place back in the side.

He told the Birmingham Mail: “He’s in decent nick but he can still be in better nick to stop these injuries.

“He’s still got a part to play here. If I didn’t think he had then I would say. But he has, like we saw against Preston (before his injury).”

Agbonlahor gave an impressive display for Aston Villa in the 2-2 draw with Preston in January, his final appearance for the club prior to his injury.

He bagged an assist for Albert Adomah’s goal, but would have claimed the goal himself had the Aston Villa winger not made contact as the ball crossed the line.

Therefore, he remains without a goal for the club this season, while he scored just once for the club in the Premier League last term during their relegation campaign.

In other Aston Villa news, Tony Xia has revealed his one remaining wish for the season.

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