Eric Black explains why Aston Villa put Gabby Agbonlahor on a personal fitness programme

Gabriel Agbonlahor

The long-serving striker has been banished from Villa's first-team reckoning for the next two weeks after being deemed out of condition for Premier League football.

Gabby Agbonlahor’s plight at Aston Villa deepened on Thursday when the club announced that the long-serving striker will be unavailable for selection for the next two weeks while he embarks on a two-week personal fitness programme.

The 29-year-old club captain will not be involved in the squad for Saturday’s match at Manchester United after being deemed out of condition for Premier League football and is also set to miss the following weekend's home game against Southampton and subsequent trip to Watford.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the United game, Villa caretaker manager Eric Black revealed that Agbonlahor had not been fined over his lack of fitness but described his absence as a “sanction”.

“Gabby and I had a meeting on Monday after withdrawing him from the squad and we decided that he would be separated partly from the group,” Black told reporters. “He’ll follow his own individual bespoke programme for the next fortnight.

He’ll be involved with the group, our fitness coach and work with the Under-21s. He’ll follow that for the next 14 days and then we’ll reassess his position. We just felt together that we needed to increase his fitness.

“I don’t think his fitness levels are at the level to be considered for the Premier League for a 90-minute game. We’ve agreed at that, looked at it together and looked at the stats. I feel that his fitness needs to be increased before I reconsider him to be involved with the first-team.

“I can only judge what I’ve seen and I’m now taking steps to try to rectify that,” Black continued. “I agree, in April the questions that people will ask are the ones I’ve thought, but in any small way if I can move the individual parts of this club forward then I’ll do it to the best of my ability.

“There are a lot of circumstances surrounding it and I’m not prepared to comment on them. I’ve acted on it, the player’s in agreement with it and I’ll have to just monitor that as we go forward.”

Agbonlahor, whose Villa contract runs until 2018, has endured a dismal campaign with his childhood club, having seen injuries, poor form and a “disagreement” with former manager Remi Garde limit him to just 15 starts in 18 total appearances.

He has only scored once in the process, netting in February’s 2-0 home win over Norwich City to end an 11-month goal drought, and it has now been six seasons since he last hit double figures in the Premier League.

The former academy product previously sat out last Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Bournemouth with a virus and was left out of the squad for the prior loss to Chelsea while Villa conducted an investigation into his conduct on a recent trip to Dubai.

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