BIRMINGHAM – Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has challenged Zimbabwe midfielder Marvelous Nakamba to get back on track with 12 games remaining before the January transfer window.

Nakamba has been let down by Gerrard so far this season after being called up once to the match-day squad in the 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on August 20 but remaining an unused substitute.

The 28-year-old Zimbabwe international has been a long way from being in the first-team since, failing even to make the squad three days later in the Carabao Cup game against third-tier side Bolton.

But the defensive midfielder, who was expected to leave Aston Villa in the European summer transfer window, is said to have been heavily involved in first-team training for the struggling side of late.

Aston Villa have had a difficult start to the season and are currently 17th with four points from their first six games, including one win, one draw and four losses.

And Gerrard is now looking to use the full squad to turn the tide of the club and has given another chance to Nakamba and France midfielder Morgan Sanson.

“In football you have to motivate yourself first and foremost,” Birmingham Live’s Gerrard quoted Nakamba and Sanson as saying.

“But collectively I try to motivate the players for every single game. But you have to be professional, that’s what you get paid for.

“Right now nothing can change, the window is closed so there should be a hunger and a will to perform and do the best they can. They’re signed here at Aston Villa and I’m sure I’ll get a sense of where those players are with their thinking, with what they’re telling me and the feedback I’m getting, and we’ll go from there.” , he added.

While Nakamba and Sanson have been given another opportunity to impress the manager, the same cannot be said for France defender Frederic Guilbert, who continues to train with the club’s Under-21s after reportedly being told he was no longer needed.

Questions have been raised as to why Nakamba, who played a key role in Gerrard’s team in the early days in England just under a year ago before suffering a long-term injury.

The Zimbabwean has spent the last four months on the sidelines after suffering knee ligament damage in Villa’s 1-0 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield in December, and only returned in April.

Gerrard was keen on getting Nakamba into the team quickly and appeared to have the player in his long-term plans.

“We will probably make some changes. We are almost in full health. We’ve been waiting for the great Nakamba and he’s had 60 minutes in the Under-23s and a strong week so he’ll make the squad,” he said ahead of the Premier League clash with Tottenham in April.

But something seemed to have changed after the offseason break, when the player was frozen from the team during preseason games.

Nakamba was linked with moves to Everton, Crystal Palace and Newcastle before the end of the summer transfer window but nothing materialised.

Source: Agencies


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