Aston Villa new boy Micah Richards explains the challenge he has set Gabby Agbonlahor

Micah Richards

The former Manchester City defender wants his new teammate to help the club push on by scoring more goal next season.

Aston Villa new boy Micah Richards has told AVTV how he has challenged Gabby Agbonlahor to score more goals next season in order to help the club climb up the Premier League table.

Agbonlahor has bagged 83 goals in 352 total appearances for Villa since coming up through the ranks to make his first-team debut in March 2006, aged 19, and earned three England caps between 2008 and 2009 thanks to his impressive performances under then-manager Martin O’Neill.

However, his form in front of goal has been on a noticeable decline in recent seasons, as the departed Paul Lambert often opted to use Christian Benteke as a lone front man and shift the long-serving forward out wide.

 Premier League SeasonGoalsGoals MINSTotal ShotsTotal Shots MINS Shooting AccuracyScoring V Shooting AccuracyBig Chances MissedTouches MINSAppearancesMins Played
Gabriel Agbonlahor 2012-2013 9 243.33 48 45.63 33% 19% 3 2.33 28 2,190
Gabriel Agbonlahor 2014-2015 6 448.83 53 50.81 32% 11% 5 2.79 34 2,693
Gabriel Agbonlahor 2011-2012 5 552.6 59 46.83 31% 8% 7 2.41 33 2,763
Gabriel Agbonlahor 2013-2014 4 611.75 46 53.2 33% 9% 3 2.53 30 2,447

Richards, who joined Villa on a free transfer last month as Tim Sherwood’s first summer signing, already knows the Birmingham-native from their time playing together with England Under-21s and the senior side, and believes he has the talent to trouble even the top-flight’s best defenders when on form.

The right-back revealed how the pair spoke ahead of his switch to the Midlands and, in wanting to help the club return to competing for a top-half finish, challenged his new teammate to get back scoring 10-plus goals a season.

“He’s been here for a while now, Gabby, and the fans love him,” Richards told AVTV. “We’ve got a little bet going on about needing him to score more goals next season.

“I told him, ‘If we want to get up the table, we need you to start scoring more goals!’

“But he’s a fantastic player and he’s managed to prove that by staying here so long.

“Like I said, the fans love him here but I told him he needs to start scoring a few more goals, so there’ll be a bit of banter going on throughout the season!”

While it remains to be seen whether strike-partner Benteke will still be at Villa come next month’s Premier League opener at Bournemouth, one thing working in Agbonlahor’s favour when it comes to his bet with Richards is the fact that he will have a full season under Sherwood’s stewardship

Used in a two-striker formation following the new manager’s arrival, a solid run of form in March saw him bag three goals in three games and, while a hamstring strain later hampered his progress during the run-in, the hometown hero proved that he still has a lot to offer his childhood club.

Still just 28, he should remain an important part of Sherwood’s plans for the foreseeable future and, having renewed his deal until 2018 in September, could have the chance to become just the 12th player to break the 100-goal barrier for Villa in the coming campaigns.

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