By support

31st Dec, 2016 | 6:30pm

These seven senior Aston Villa players must leave in January to aid promotion

COMMENT by Amir Mir

Steve Bruce will head into the January transfer window knowing a successful month can see Aston Villa close the gap on the top six in the Championship table.

The promotion expert must get rid of seven senior players in order to aid their chances of finishing in the play-off places or securing an unlikely automatic spot.

Gabby Agbonlahor, Pierluigi Gollini, Micah Richards, Ashley Westwood, Aly Cissokho, Libor Kozak and Leandro Bacuna should all be allowed to leave.

As a result, Bruce must bring in better quality players who can help the club return to the top-flight either during this campaign or the next.

Striker Agbonlahor, defender Richards and midfielder Bacuna should not be allowed anywhere near the club following their antics last season.

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Furthermore, the likes of Gollini, Westwood and Kozak are either not good enough for a promotion challenge or are on the sidelines and should be allowed to leave.

Clearing out these players will help the club continue to rebuild as last season’s relegation will not be solved overnight.

Bruce has made a significant change since replacing the sacked Roberto Di Matteo in mid-October, winning seven of his 13 games in charge.

He helped the club record their first away win since August 2015 and keep intact their unbeaten home record by winning five games on the bounce.

However, there are still a lot of improvements to be made within this team, including finding consistency.

There are still missing jigsaw pieces within this squad, with the Championship club crying out for a creative midfielder.

Villa will also need to add more bodies in the middle of the park and provide more defensive cover for James Chester and Nathan Baker.

But this can only be done if those seven senior players leave in January so that the wage budget can be freed for them to come in.

In other Aston Villa news, manager Steve Bruce has shared his January transfer plans.