Stiiyan Petrov may have played his last game of football of 2010 and has left Aston Villa with a small crisis in the middle of their midfield in the coming months.
The Villa skipper had to be replaced in the first half of the defeat by Sunderland with a knee injury and it has now been stated that he potentially faces two months on the sidelines.
Manager Gerard Houllier told the club’s official website: “We will know whether he needs an operation by the middle of the week. It’s a shame because he was getting back to a good level.”
Villa have been fortunate with injuries in the past few seasons as they unsuccessfully attempted to break into the top four, but they have been far less privileged in the current campaign.
Star striker Gabby Agbonlahor has hardly featured because of a range of leg problems, while Emile Heskey and John Carew have often had to play despite not being at peak fitness.
Petrov joins young prospect Fabian Delph on the treatment table, leaving Stephen Ireland, Nigel Reo Coker and Steve Sidwell as the only recognised central midfielders in the Villa ranks, which is particularly worrying as they play a 451 formation.
On a brighter note, the injury may lead to Villa having a little more creativity in the team as Reo Coker will revert to the holding midfield position and Sidwell offering a little bit extra around the opposition’s penalty box.
However, if Villa struggle without Petrov’s workrate they could be drawn deeper into the relegation picture and they are currently 25/1 to be relegated to the Championship this season.
Another option is to trial defender James Collins in the holding midfield position, with Carlos Cuellar or Ciaran Clark coming in to partner Richard Dunne at the heart of the defence.
Aston Villa are at home to local rivals Birmingham in the Premier League next, with the opposition 6/1 to be relegated this season. See the full Premier League relegation betting odds market.