The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Luke Baker

JONATHAN Kodjia’s de­par­ture for Africa Cup of Na­tions duty is un­doubt­edly a blow for Aston Villa, and man­ager Steve Bruce ad­mits he is in­ter­ested in adding more fire­power up front to com­pen­sate for the Ivo­rian’s ab­sence.

Kodjia has al­ready plun­dered nine goals for Villa this term, and al­though Ross McCor­mack or Gabby Ag­bon­la­hor could fill in for the 27-year-old, Bruce is con­sid­er­ing other al­ter­na­tives.

“If a striker comes along who will be better than what we’ve got, we will act,” said Bruce.

“It’s a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion we find our­selves in be­cause the one player who has scored us our goals has left us.

“We’re dis­ap­pointed to lose him (Kodjia), but hope­fully we can cope with­out him. He could be back in two weeks!

“We still need strength­en­ing up front, in mid­field and de­fen­sively, so we’ll see what comes off.”

While Kodjia will be back at Villa Park in the near fu­ture, one man who has de­parted on a more per­ma­nent ba­sis is goal­keeper Pier­luigi Gollini.

The Ital­ian has re­turned to his na­tive coun­try on an 18-month loan and Bruce is con­vinced it was the best op­tion for the 21-year-old af­ter Manch­ester United stop­per Sam John­stone joined Villa on loan ear­lier this month.

“We didn’t want him sit­ting around, so it made sense, with Sam John­stone com­ing in, to send him on loan,” added Bruce.

“It’s fair to say that, once I’d left him out and I’d brought in an­other keeper, what was the next step for Pier? In truth, he is a young lad and Aston Villa came too soon for him.

“He still needs to learn his trade. It’s a good thing he’s out there play­ing again.

“Ide­ally, it would have been in this coun­try, but we still own him and we’ll keep mon­i­tor­ing his progress.”

AWAY: Jonathan Kodjia

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