Eric Black in the dark over Gabby Agbonlahor's Aston Villa future

The long-serving striker has come under growing criticism from fans and the media this season after a number of controversial incidents.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of this afternoon's clash with Southampton, Aston Villa caretaker boss Eric Black gave little away when asked whether Gabby Agbonlahor still has a future at the club.

Agbonlahor, whose Villa contract expires in 2018, has endured a dismal campaign with his childhood club, having seen injuries, poor form and a string of controversial incidents limit him to just 15 starts in 18 total appearances.

The 29-year-old striker has only scored once in the process, against Norwich City in February to end an 11-month goal drought, and it has now been six seasons since he last hit double figures in the Premier League.

Prior to the Norwich match, the ex-England international had sat out a 10-game stretch over the winter following a "disagreement" with former manager Remi Garde, and he was once again dropped from the squad earlier this month while the club conducted an internal investigation into his conduct on a recent trip to Dubai.

Villa subsequently announced that they would not be taking any further action against the Birmingham-born front man, but Black later revealed ahead of last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Manchester United that he would be unavailable for selection for the next two weeks after being put on a personal fitness programme.

However, the under-fire veteran's training plan was halted earlier this week when he was suspended pending another club investigation after more newspaper allegations surfaced about his off-field conduct at the weekend.

Having ruined his relationship with the fan base, the long-serving forward’s future in B6 is now uncertain as relegated Villa prepare to revamp their squad over the summer, and Black does not know whether this latest misdemeanour will spell the end for his claret and blue career.

“It’s a hard one to answer. You’ll have to ask Gabby that,” Black said at his press conference. “I think he’s the only one who can truly answer that, so I don’t have a personal comment on that one.

“I think the squad now over the next six weeks is going to be fluid because there’ll be players that the club may wish to move on who won’t move, there’ll be players who the club would like to get in who they can’t get in at this moment in time and there’ll be those who want to leave that the club would like to keep, so it’s going to be a very fluid six or seven weeks over the transfer period until the squad is established.

“Obviously finances will dictate an awful lot in that regard, so it’s very difficult to just put your finger on it and say we’re going to need a, b, c and d. This is going to be an ongoing thing through the summer.

“It won’t be my job to speak to the players, but in terms of giving my opinion on the players or the Championship, I’m more than happy to give any information or advice that anyone wants.

“But with regards to the players’ contracts, that won’t be my problem.”

Black also stressed that he was not involved in the decision to suspend Agbonlahor, adding on the investigation: “That’s an ongoing thing. It’s nothing to do with me. It was external to the footballing side. There’s an investigation ongoing as we speak, but in terms of who was involved in it, I can’t tell you.

“There are a lot of players at the football club and obviously I’ll pick and choose who plays. Gabby’s going through an investigation of some description and takes him out. Obviously I don’t have him to pick.”

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