Stan Collymore says this senior Aston Villa trio must head the summer cull

The former Villa striker believes club captain Gabriel Agbonlahor and defenders Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott must be amongst the first exits.

Former Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore has written via TwitLonger that club captain Gabriel Agbonlahor, team captain Micah Richards, and veteran centre-back Joleon Lescott must be amongst the first heads to roll after the club's catastrophic season.

Villa will find themselves outside the English top flight for the first time in nearly three decades next season after a campaign which has been nothing short of disastrous.

The former European Cup winners have won just three matches all season, sit 12 points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table, and this week sacked their second manager of the campaign, Tim Sherwood's successor Remi Garde, afte rless than six months in the job.

Plenty of blame has been apportioned to board, manager, and players alike throughout the campaign, with many supporters criticising senior members of the playing staff for their apparent lack of commitment to the cause.

Collymore, who works as a pundit after a playing career which included scoring 15 goals in 64 appearances for the claret and blue club, appears to subscribe to this view and voiced his opinion that the senior stars have created a "difficult environment" for other players.

The 45-year-old wrote on his Twitter account, via TwitLonger: "I'm afraid the cull needs to start with Gabby, our captain. He's simply been at the club too long now, was rewarded with a new contract at at time of little productivity, and he needs a new challenge.

"Micah and Joleon also would be surplus to requirements, great pros and great careers elsewhere but too many seniors with too much to say are creating a difficult environment for the younger players and indeed new recruits to not only survive but thrive moving forward."

Collymore also went on to suggest that he believes the club should look to move on from its experiment of signing players from the French top-flight last summer.

The ex-striker does not have confidence that players such as Idrissa Gana and Jordan Ayew would be able to cope with the intensity and hectic schedule of a Championship season.

He added: "Most of the Francophones I'd look to sell, none bar [Jordan] Amavi and perhaps [Jordan] Veretout could hack a Championship season, and Gana should be used as an asset to bring one or two Championship, British Isles -based players in."

Villa host Chelsea on Saturday in their first match since the sacking of Garde, with first-team coaches Eric Black and Kevin MacDonald taking charge on an interim basis.

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