Aston Villa defender Aly Cissokho delighted to see Gabby Agbonlahor back in the goals

Gabriel Agbonlahor

The 29-year-old striker scored for the first time since last March in Saturday's 2-0 win over Norwich City at Villa Park.

Aston Villa defender Aly Cissokho has told AVTV of his delight at seeing Gabby Agbonlahor break his 11-month goal drought.

The 29-year-old striker scored for the first time since last March in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Norwich City when he doubled Villa’s lead five minutes after the break, racing onto a Jordan Veretout through ball and slotting past the onrushing Declan Rudd from a tight angle.

It was the long-serving forward’s second straight Premier League start for the club since returning to the first-team fold after shaking off nagging back and hip problems, and while he did not see a great deal of the ball over the course of the 90 minutes, he did looking much sharper than earlier in the season and impressed with his work rate.

Villa may need to continue relying on him over the coming weeks with Rudy Gestede and Libor Kozak currently out injured and Jordan Ayew banned for a further two games for his sending off against West Ham United, but Cissokho is sure that his experienced teammate can continue to produce in front goal.

Speaking after the Canaries clash about Agbonlahor, the French left-back hailed his leadership both on and off the pitch and backed him to give the team’s slim survival hopes a significant boost over the remaining 13 league games.

“It was a beautiful goal and I’m very happy for him because he’s a good guy and also a good player,” Cissokho told AVTV. “We needed him today because the two strikers, Libor and Rudy, are not here and Ayew as well, so today he’s done his job.

“He fought. He knew that he was not going to have many balls but he gave everything for the team and we need a player like that with experience for the next games.

“He’s played here many years. He gives a lot for Villa and of course his experience is going to bring more stability. Sometimes in games we can be too quiet and he can speak up on the pitch.”

Agbonlahor saw just one minute of action in Garde’s first 14 matches as Villa manager and was expected to leave the club during the winter transfer window after the Frenchman admitted to a “disagreement” between the pair in December.

However, Garde later insisted ahead of the deadline that the former England international’s absence was down to injuries and offered him the chance to revive his claret and blue career over the second half of the season.

He has now featured in the club’s past three games after making his comeback in the 4-0 FA Cup fourth round defeat to Manchester City as a second-half substitute, and Garde was full of praise for his latest display.

“I am pleased, of course, for Gabby,” the ex-Lyon boss told Villa's official website after the Norwich win. “He scored the goal he likes to score – the ball in behind the defensive line –one from Jordan Veretout – and he scored brilliantly.

“But I have to say he worked very hard for the team for 90 minutes like he did at West Ham.

“Gabby was not available for selection for a long time,” he added. “As soon as he has been available he has been there for the team. I'm pleased he is back on the track.

“Scoring for him will be very important because when you are a striker and not scoring for a long while it's very painful. We have 13 games to go and hopefully Gabby could be the one to help the team to fight until the end.”

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