Aston Villa caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald explains Idrissa Gana's absence at Tottenham

The 26-year-old midfielder was left out of the matchday squad for a second straight game as Villa slipped to a 3-1 defeat.

Aston Villa midfielder Idrissa Gana did not play in Monday night’s 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur because he has been looking sluggish in training, caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald has revealed.

The 26-year-old summer signing from Lille was also left out of the squad for Wednesday’s 2-1 Capital One Cup fourth-round loss at Southampton, despite starting eight of the club’s first 10 Premier League games under the sacked Tim Sherwood – missing the other two with a hamstring strain – and being fit to travel.

Speaking to the club’s official website after last night’s defeat, MacDonald explained that he thought the Senegal international was not at his best in the previous top-flight clash with Swansea City, and having also appeared off the pace at Bodymoor Heath during the week, he thought it best to leave him out of the 18 for another game.

“I thought Idrissa looked tired during the Swansea game,” said MacDonald. “We rested him for the Southampton match. He hasn't looked that sparkly - as we saw in the first two or three games.

“He didn't have that sparkle in training.”

Premier League GoalsAssistsKey PassesPassing AccuracyTotal Tackles GAMETackle AccuracyInterceptions GAMETotal Dribbles GAMEDribble AccuracyBall Recoveries GAMEAppearancesMins Played
Idrissa Gana 0 0 7 87% 4 81% 3.63 3.5 56.67% 9.63 8 720

New manager Remi Garde, who was watching in the stands at White Hart Lane after being confirmed as Sherwood’s successor just hours earlier, did not need to see Gana in action on the night to know about his qualities, though, having faced the £9 million man on several occasions in Ligue 1 during his time as Lyon boss between 2011 and 2014.

MacDonald was not able to speak to him prior to the match, but despite seeing his side kept bottom of the table with just four points from 11 games after suffering a seventh straight top-flight defeat, he believes that the ex-Arsenal midfielder has enough talent at his disposal to keep the club from the drop.

“I will tell him he has got something to work with,” added the interim boss. “They have a great desire to work. They were putting themselves on the line for everything.

“He was a cultured player himself - and these players need to take a little more care of the ball and be a bit more relaxed in some positions. They are a little bit quick but that's a sign of being bottom of the league.”

Gana himself has been sloppy in possession at times in recent weeks, but having also been widely regarded as one of the top talents in Ligue 1 prior to joining Villa, one would expect him to feature heavily in Garde’s plans going forward.

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