Leeds v Aston Villa: Steven Gerrard confident squad can cope with injuries
Steven Gerrard is confident Villa have the squad to cope with their mounting injury worries.
Villa resume their Premier League season at Leeds tomorrow with Gerrard set to hand a first start to summer arrival Ludwig Augustinsson in place of Lucas Digne, the £25million left-back having been ruled out for several weeks with a heel injury.
Gerrard will be without Boubacar Kamara for even longer, the midfielder not expected back until after the World Cup after sustaining knee ligament damage in the 1-0 win over Southampton prior to the interational break.
With Diego Carlos having already been ruled out for an extended period with a ruptured Achilles, it means Gerrard is now deprived of his two main summer signings just seven matches into the campaign.
But the Villa boss believes he has the strength in depth to cope with those losses.
“It’s frustrating, it hurts, it’s a blow,” he said. “I’m still feeling the Diego Carlos injury now, and the Boubacar one.
“That’s the position I’m in, but I’ll get nothing for feeling sorry for myself.
“We have to move forwards and I have total confidence in the squad that we have the right people to come in and fill the void.
“Collectively we have to make sure those players are not missed as much as people think they will be.”
With Matty Cash not due to resume full training until Monday after recovering from a hamstring injury, Ashley Young will continue to deputise at right-back with Augustinsson set for his first appearance since joining from Sevilla on a season-long loan.
The 28-year-old featured twice for Sweden during the break and Gerrard said: “Luders has told me he is going to be ready. He has been frustrated for his lack of time. It is a big opportunity for him to step forward and step in.”
Villa were 3-0 winners at Elland Road last season but have won just four of 18 Premier League matches since that March triumph and tomorrow’s match begins an important six week period before the World Cup.
Gerrard is eager for his team, who sit 15th in the table, to build on the momentum gained by the win over the Saints and the draw with Manchester City which preceded it.
“We’ve all been frustrated and disappointed with our start to the season,” he said.
“What you have seen in the last two performances is a team which has rolled its sleeves up and stuck together, tried to turn that corner.
“We have taken four points out of six, which is a lot more positive than where we were. We need to try and build on that now. We need to be consistent on the things which have been getting us results and try and build from there.
“I have every confidence these players will step forward, will dig in and keep driving. The next eight or nine games, if you include cup, is a real important time for us to try and set the rest of the season up.
“To put ourselves in a healthy position in the league. It’s exciting with the fixtures ahead of us but it is also a really important time, with the injuries we have, that everyone keeps stepping forward to help us get the results we need.”