News that Christian Benteke will be missing for up to six weeks because of a hip injury may have generated a collection of sighs among Aston Villa fans, but the situation could have certainly been worse.
Given that an international break also features in Benteke’s injury period, the Belgian may only miss as many as five Premier League fixtures.
Although this is still far from ideal, as Paul Lambert’s side do tend to rely on Benteke as the focal point of their attacks, it will give some of his potential longer-term successors the opportunity to profit from some Premier League experience, while showcasing their abilities.
Libor Kozak is the obvious first-choice replacement, bearing in mind that he cost £7m in the summer from Lazio and scored the winner in the latest Premier League fixture at Norwich.
The Czech forward is not as quick or as powerful as Benteke, but this may mean that Villa have to adapt their strategy slightly, which may make them a little less predictable.
It would be no surprise if some Villa fans have already called Kozak ‘Kojak’ by mistake and it may be wise if the striker adopted some of the traits of the fictional television detective in order to make a further Premier League impact.
Kojak was known for being both tough and tenacious in his pursuit of New York criminals and Kozak has already shown in his short Villa career that he is capable of winning balls in the air, alongside holding up possession efficiently.
It is in the air where he has looked most effective and so Lambert may also want to shuffle his pack accordingly, with Marc Albrighton one of Villa’s better players in the Capital One Cup defeat to Tottenham.
Albrighton likes to cross the ball and could be the ideal provider for Kozak, while Gabby Agbonlahor has already shown that he can assist from the left by making Kozak’s winner at Norwich.
Villa entertain Manchester City next and are 5/1 to secure the three points, although it is a fixture they have lost 1-0 in each of the last two seasons.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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