Aston Villa defender Tommy Elphick praises determination of under-fire team-mate Gabby Agbonlahor

Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa in action

Few expected Agbonlahor to still be contracted to Villa. Even fewer expected him to be playing for them.

Aston Villa defender Tommy Elphick has praised the determination of striker Gabby Agbonlahor as he looks to revive his career at the Championship club, the Birmingham Mail reports.

The homegrown forward appeared to have ruined any chances he had of a future at Villa Park after losing the captaincy last season when pictures emerged of him allegedly smoking a shisha pipe during a trip to Dubai.

Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor

At the time, his boyhood club were languishing at the bottom of the Premier League table on their way to recording the third worst points total in the competition’s 24 year history.

However, after being banished to the reserves, new Villa boss Steve Bruce has given the talented forward another opportunity, one Elphick claims he is seizing with both hands.

"Since I've been at the club he's been nothing but positive even when he's been out of the mix," said the former Bournemouth defender said in quotes reported by the Birmingham Mail.

Aston Villa's Tommy Elphick celebrates after Rudy Gestede scored their second goal

"He's worked ridiculously hard to get his fitness at an optimum which was clear to see at Brighton and the next step for Gabby will be getting his first goal for the season.

"He's been a big lift to the squad since being back involved so long may that feeling continue."

The 30-year-old has reportedly shed over a stone in weight after embarking upon a new fitness program, meaning he has earned a place back in the first-team after months on the sidelines.

Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa in action

Agbonlahor has featured in 155 minutes of league action since Bruce replaced Roberto Di Matteo at the helm, starting the 1-1 draw with Brighton earlier this month.

However, with Jonathan Kodjia on fire in front of goal at the present time, the three-time England international will more than likely be restricted to cameos and sub appearances for the foreseeable future.

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