Sherwood tips Aston Villa misfit for key role in relegation battle

The claret and blue boss believes Charles N'Zogbia could prove a real difference-maker in the club's fight to avoid the drop.

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has told the Birmingham Mail that he believes Charles N’Zogbia could prove a major factor in helping the team retain their Premier League status over the coming months.

N’Zogbia, 28, failed to make a single appearance for Villa last season after injuring his Achilles during the summer of 2013, and had looked set to leave the club alongside fellow “Bomb Squad” members Darren Bent and Alan Hutton.

The since-departed Paul Lambert granted the trio a reprieve during preseason, but the Frenchman was unable to make the most of his second chance, earning 12 disappointing starts in 17 total appearances before the Scot’s sacking, while recording no goals and just one assist.

However, having failed to make the starting XI since December, Sherwood gave the midfielder a surprise 30-minute run out in the weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United and, while he couldn’t offer much against his former club, the new boss insists his experience could be vital in their battle to avoid the drop.

“He’s been really good since I got here,” said Sherwood. “I think he has got valuable experience - experience in the bottom of the division as well with Wigan.

“In the past whenever I have set up a team and I’m out there coaching, Charles N’Zogbia has always been highlighted as a threat.

“He told me that he felt his best form was when he was at Wigan. He needs to try and recapture that at Villa. I think it’s possible that he can do that.

“He’s not match fit because he hasn’t been playing games, but the sessions that I put on are pretty much real - they’re out on the big pitch.

“Between now and the end of his career it would be a shame if he doesn’t give maximum effort and try to achieve something because has certainly got the tools.”

Signed from Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2011 for £9 million at the start of Alex McLeish’s reign, N’Zogbia has netted five times in 78 games during his time in the West Midlands, while adding 15 assists.

With a contract until 2016, the two-times capped international is still to live up to his price tag, although a brief solid run of form towards the end of the 2012-13 season in Lambert’s first term in charge showed some glimpse of what he could be capable of with the right mindset.

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