Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood ready to take fitness gamble on Rudy Gestede for Manchester United clash

The towering striker is still behind on his fitness but, after coming on to net the winner against Bournemouth, he could be in line to start Villa's home opener.

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has revealed at his pre-match press conference that new boy Rudy Gestede could earn his first start of the club in Friday night’s Manchester United clash.

Gestede, 26, joined Villa from Blackburn Rovers earlier this month in a £6 million deal, having scored 35 times in 72 appearances across all competitions during his 18-month spell at the Championship club.

19 of those goals came off headers – the most in England over the past two seasons – and he demonstrated that renowned aerial prowess in the weekend’s Premier League opener at Bournemouth, coming on to power in a 72nd-minute winner from a corner.

The 6ft 4in front man is still not 100 per cent fit but, after his debut strike, Sherwood admits that he is considering putting him in the starting line-up for the first game of the season at Villa Park – especially with a potential matchup against 5ft 10in Daley Bind in store.

“He is getting closer to starting,” said Sherwood. “He played half an hour last week and 45 minutes for Blackburn in pre-season. It's not an awful lot.

“He is behind on his fitness. You don't want to push him forward very quickly and lose him for a period of time. You have to build them up.

“It might be the case he starts the game and can’t last it. It depends on the way round we want to use him.”

“He's a good lad and he works hard, the fans realise you are going to get everything from Rudy when he is on the pitch,” he added. “He's got that outstanding quality where you stick it in the box he's going to put his head on it and cause defenders a lot of problems.

“I'm not sure it will be Blind. Marcos Rojo is fit now I think he might come in.”

 2014-15 Championship PositionTeamGoalsGoals MINSTotal ShotsShooting AccuracyAssistsTotal Key PassesHeaders WonHeader SuccessAppearancesMins Played
Rudy Gestede FW Blackburn 20 135.25 120 36% 4 45 359 59% 39 2,705

Sherwood also confirmed that neither Jack Grealish nor Carles Gil will be fit for United’s visit, despite both resuming full training this week.

Grealish was restricted to just a 64-minute run-out against Tamworth during pre-season after injuring his hamstring at the start of Villa’s training camp in Portugal and missed the 1-0 win over Bournemouth as a result.

Gil, meanwhile, was the team’s standout performer in their opening two fixtures against Fulham and Braga in the Algarve but has not been back in action since taking a knock to his knee during the subsequent match at Swindon Town.

The pair are nearing a first-team return, leaving Jores Okore as the lone long-term absentee, but Sherwood has now revealed that neither have made enough progress to make the coming game.

“Carles Gil's not fit, Jack Grealish is not fit and Jores Okore is not fit,” said Sherwood. “There's a few who have got a few more training days under their belt, which will help them.”

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