Remi Garde gives update on Libor Kozak's Aston Villa future

The 26-year-old Czech striker has been strongly linked with a January move for Celtic.

Aston Villa manager Remi Garde has refused to rule out letting reported Celtic target Libor Kozak leave the club in the January transfer window, despite praising his display in the 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

The 26-year-old Czech striker made his first Premier League start in over two years on Tuesday night when he helped end Villa’s 19-game winless run in the top-flight with a tireless and committed performance.

Garde had said last month that the eight-time capped international would be free to move on this winter amid reports of a potential switch to Celtic [h/t Daily Record], but his recent return to first-team contention has since led to suggestions that he could now be off the market.

However, asked about Kozak’s situation at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s visit of high-flying Leicester City, the Villa boss said: “For the moment I have no offer on the table. It's only speculation.

“I am pleased in the way he gave me an answer in the first months we had together. He worked very hard with a very good attitude in training sessions, that's why I thought I could give him an opportunity to play.

“I was pleased the way he played, I would have liked for him to score one or two goals, like every striker. He probably has the same feeling.

“Even if he didn't score he worked very hard for the team. I watched the game again and for a first game it was very interesting. Let's say for now he is still an Aston Villa player.”

Kozak first joined Villa from Lazio in September 2013 for €6.5 million [£4.7 million] and made a solid start to life in England, scoring four goals in his first 14 Premier League appearances.

However, he subsequently suffered a serious leg break during a training session in January 2014 and did not return to the senior setup until this past preseason after fearing at one stage that his career could be over.

The former Serie A star proceeded to prove his fitness to former boss Tim Sherwood with three goals in five friendlies, suggesting that a successful comeback campaign was in store, but he then made just one substitute appearance in the Capital One Cup over the first few months of the season.

He did not feature in Garde’s opening eight games in charge either following the Frenchman’s arrival, before getting his first taste of top-flight action since December 2013 with a 15-minute cameo in the 3-1 loss at Sunderland earlier this month.

It now remains to be seen what the future holds for him after his start against Palace, but if he does leave Villa this winter, Celtic would seem to be his likeliest destination.

Bhoys boss Ronny Deila has previously watched him play for the club’s Under-21s this season, and despite reports that the 6ft 3in front man rejected a move to Parkhead in August, is still said to be eager to take him north of the border [h/t Daily Record].

Garde even confirmed last month that the Scottish champions had shown interest in the fan favourite forward, but with Genoa also named as potential suitors this week [h/t], there could well be competition for his services.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch