Steve Bruce will be wishing he could select Callum Robinson for Aston Villa on Saturday rather than facing him

Callum Robinson of Preston North End celebrates after the game

Villa will come up against their former young star this weekend.

It has been a tough old time for Aston Villa without their top scorer Jonathan Kodjia in the past couple of weeks.

With Kodjia (along with fellow attacking star Jordan Ayew) at the Africa Cup of Nations since the start of January, Steve Bruce's side have been left desperately short up top.

Ross McCormack is misfiring, with just three goals all season since his move from Fulham. Rudy Gestede was sold to Middlesbrough for what Villa paid for him 18 months ago. Libor Kozak continues to be non-existant, to all intents and purposes. Gabby Agbonlahor is back in the fold but offering little in attack.

Villa do have a bright crop of youngsters coming through, but the leading attacking star of the academy, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, is currently in exile after refusing to put pen to paper on a lucrative new contract.

Callum Robinson of Preston North End celebrates after the game

Fellow teenager Keinan Davis made his first-team debut earlier this month as a substitute, but Bruce would love to have one former prodigy to call upon.

Instead, his side must face that man this weekend when Villa come up against Preston North End at Villa Park.

Callum Robinson joined Preston back in July for a small compensation fee after two successful loan spells at the club, with his contract at Villa up. After making just five first-team appearances in total for Villa, the attacker (along with another Villa cast-off, Daniel Johnson in central midfield) has become a key man at Deepdale.

Now, he returns to the home of his former club in sharp form, with two goals in his last two games (including one against Arsenal in the FA Cup) taking his tally for the season to seven from 29 appearances. That would put him as Villa's second-highest scorer behind Kodjia, and some four goals ahead of the next most prolific players for the club this season, Jordan Ayew, Ross McCormack and Jack Grealish, who have each scored three times.

Preston North End's Jermaine Beckford (C) celebrates scoring their first goal with Callum Robinson (R) and Daniel Johnson

How Bruce must be wishing that he had the 21-year-old to call upon now. Though primarily a winger, Robinson has also shown an aptitude this season for playing in a central attacking role, most recently just off the main striker.

Without Kodjia, who like Robinson has been utilised both in attack and out wide this term, Villa have lost three games in a row without scoring. They have struggled for creativity and chance conversion, something that Robinson - who also has two assists to his name this term - has been providing for Preston.

Robinson will come to Villa Park on Saturday full of confidence and eager to leave a mark on his former home.

Villa will be praying that he (along with Johnson) do not serve of a further reminder of how bereft their own side is in attack with Kodjia gone.

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