By Noel Whelan

23rd Sep, 2022 | 10:51am

Whelan shares 'big-money' Steven Gerrard worry after Aston Villa latest

Noel Whelan has warned Steven Gerrard he faces a “real test” after Lucas Digne became the latest Aston Villa star to suffer an injury blow.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted “this is why Gerrard is paid the big money” amid a number of key absences in the defensive unit.

As per the Daily Mail (21 September), Digne has suffered a suspected stress fracture to the ankle which saw him withdraw from the France squad for this month’s Nations League games.

The left-back joins Matty Cash, Boubacar Kamara, and Diego Carlos on the treatment table – with the latter ruled out for the season after suffering an ACL injury.

Sources told Football Insider last month (29 August) that Aston Villa ambitious owners won’t hesitate to sack Gerrard if results do not improve.

However, the former Rangers boss may have put those fears at ease after leading his side to a 1-0 home win over Southampton last week (16 September).

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Whelan admitted he “feels sorry” for Gerrard but insisted injury problems are “part and parcel of football”.

He told Football Insider’s Ewan Kingsbury: “They’ve got some really experienced, first-choice players out now.

“It’s difficult for Aston Villa – but we’ve seen many teams in the last couple of years suffer these kinds of injury crises like Leeds and Newcastle.

“I’m sure Gerrard will be hoping to keep his first-team unit fit, but it’s part and parcel of football.

“It’s a real test for Gerrard now to utilise some of the players he’s got. It’s never easy for managers, and I do feel sorry for him.

“But this is why he gets paid the big money to make the big decisions.”

In other news, Aston Villa expert cites Kenny Dalglish cited amid “tremendous” player claim.