Aston Villa have suffered a fresh injury blow to Carney Chukwuemeka ahead of their Premier League game against Chelsea on Saturday afternoon.
What’s the story?
Dean Smith is already without the Argentine pair of Emi Buendia and Emi Martinez, and he now looks set to also be deprived of one of his club’s brightest young academy prospects.
He said: “We’re also missing Carney Chukwuemeka.
“He felt an adductor strain that he’s had in his England under 19 game, which we’re pleased to say he captained the team. He’s certainly progressing well, but he’ll be out on Saturday unfortunately due to that injury.”
Big blow for Villa
While Chukwuemeka may not exactly be an established first-team star, this latest news that he will be missing from the game at Stamford Bridge is still a gutting one for Smith.
The teenager made a Premier League start last time out against Brentford amid a number of Villa’s first-team stars being ruled out either with injuries or virus-related issues, and he certainly showed glimpses of why he could be a difference-maker in the years to come – the Birmingham Mail‘s Ashley Preece said he “looked bright and confident in possession”,
Former Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie has previously urged Smith to throw Chukwuemeka into the deep end with the first-team.
He exclusively told Football FanCast: “I kind of go off the fans’ views – I know he’s been scoring goals in the Under-18s. When someone is scoring goals, they’ve showed they’re a massive threat, it does attract football clubs and when you’re getting Manchester City and United hovering around the vicinity and are trying to take the young players away.
“This is where I feel if he’s that good we need to see him filtered through to the first team especially at this stage of the season. We’ve seen the likes of Louie Barry, who I felt would have had more of a chance this season, and I would put him in that category. I’d like to see more of him playing, because if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Smith in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against the Blues today.
He said: “He is a genuine option – if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. He’s only 17 years old, but his performances belie his age to be honest – he plays a lot older than he actually is.”
Despite his tender age, being without Chukwuemeka in a game where Villa will likely have to work very hard and cover a lot of ground to compete with the European champions is certainly a body blow for Smith.