Libor Kozak praises quality of Aston Villa teammate Joe Cole

Joe Cole Liverpool

The Czech Republic striker scored on his first senior appearance in 19 month during Villa's pre-season opener against Fulham thanks to his veteran teammate's assist.

Joe Cole has drifted somewhat into the background at Aston Villa since arriving on a free transfer from West Ham United last summer, but Libor Kozak has been quick to stress the qualities he brings to the squad.

Kozak was speaking to AVTV after scoring on his first senior appearance in 19 months during last weekend’s pre-season opener against Fulham, when his fellow second-half substitute’s 57th-minute through ball set him up for a straightforward finish.

The Czech striker is now zoning in on a competitive comeback after a career-threatening leg break but Cole has also been dealing with his own fitness problems of late, having seen recurring hamstring injuries limit him to just five starts and 10 substitute outings last term.

The former England international did show some flashes of his past brilliance when on the pitch but, with his career now winding down as he approaches 34, it remains to be seen how much more he can offer at the Premier League level.

Nevertheless, Kozak was impressed with what see saw from his veteran teammate in the 3-1 defeat to Fulham, as well as through the first week of Villa’s pre-season training camp in Portugal, and believes he can still be an important contributor this coming campaign.

“He [Cole] played very well and assisted me,” said Kozak. “He’s another very good player with a lot of experience.

“People don’t speak about him too much but he’s part of a high quality team.

“I think we have some other very good players like Carles [Gil] with quality technique,” he continued. “We lost the last game but it was only the first match of pre-season.

“It’s more important for us improve game after game so we can be prepared for the first Premier League match of the season.”

 2014-15 Premier League PositionTeamGoalsAssistsTotal Key PassesPassing AccuracyTotal Crosses MINSCrossing AccuracyTotal Dribbles MINSDribble AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Joe Cole MF Aston Villa 1 1 7 84% 17.44 25% 69.75 75% 12 279

On his own return, meanwhile, Kozak added: “After such a long time, it was nice to get back on the pitch and play with the lads.

“It was amazing because it was such a long time and the goal added something more. I’m very happy that, in the first game, I can have that sensation.

“It wasn’t easy at the start [of the game] but soon I got used to it and enjoyed it very much.”

Whether manager Tim Sherwood sees Kozak and Cole filling important roles in his plans for the coming season remains to be seen but, with Christian Benteke and now Fabian Delph rumoured to be heading for the exit door, the pair could end up seeing far more minutes than anticipated at this point.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch