Aston Villa caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald explains Gabby Agbonlahor substitution, gives Ashley Westwood update

Gabriel Agbonlahor

Injuries forced both players off before the second half of Monday night's 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.

Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor was taken off at half-time of Monday night’s 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur because of a calf injury rather than his performance, caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald has revealed.

The 29-year-old, who started the game as captain in the absence of the suspended Micah Richards, was replaced by Rudy Gestede at the break after managing just eight touches of the football during the opening 45 minutes – two of them kick-offs.

However, speaking to the club’s official website after the game, MacDonald insisted that the long-serving forward’s substitution had nothing to do with his lack of impact and was instead fitness-related.

The Birmingham native missed three games earlier this season with the same calf problem, and having been dealing with the injury for over a month now, his interim boss did not want to risk him picking up a more serious issue with new manager Remi Garde coming in.

“Gabby was injured. He's got an injured calf,” said MacDonald. “Obviously we have to be very, very careful. We can't afford any long-term injuries. He's had this ongoing calf injury for probably six or seven weeks and, if I'm being honest, I wouldn't want the new manager coming in and having somebody out for six or seven weeks again.

“I thought I'd take him off, put Rudy on and work from there.”

Agbonlahor’s injury was the second of the game for Villa, having seen Ashley Westwood forced off in the 38th-minute after taking a blow to the face during a tussle for the ball with Moussa Dembele.

The midfielder looked in a great deal of discomfort as he was taken off the pitch and MacDonald later confirmed that he was suffering with dizziness and more than likely had a concussion – putting his status for Sunday’s home clash with Manchester City into serious doubt.

“Ashley had blurred vision – concussion,” MacDonald added. “I'm glad it wasn't more serious - Ashley is a warrior. We're glad that he's okay. He's got a real bad headache but he's up and not so dizzy right now.”

The incoming Garde, who was watching from the stands at White Hart Lane after being confirmed as Tim Sherwood's successor just hours earlier, will now have to monitor the duo ahead of his first game in charge on the weekend, but given how much better Villa looked in the second half once goalscorer Jordan Ayew, Gestede and Carles Gil had all been brought off the bench, he may well have been considering changes anyway.

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