Kod­jia is the key to Villa re­vival

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Wragg

AS­TON VILLA boss Steve Bruce is get­ting ready for a fight to keep star striker Jonathan Kod­jia.

Kod­jia scored two more to give him 17 goals in a de­but sea­son dur­ing which his £15mil­lion fee has dou­bled.

De­spite pil­ing up an im­pres­sive 18 points from the last 21, Bruce doesn’t think Villa will be able to make in­roads into the ten points be­tween them and the play-off places.

So he is set­ting things up for a ma­jor push next sea­son – and Kod­jia is key to that.

Kod­jia scored a won­der goal in the 25th minute and fol­lowed up with a sim­pler one two min­utes from time when Nor­wich were down to ten men af­ter Ivo Pinto had been sent off.

“That first goal, it was won­der­ful, won­der­ful. There will not be a bet­ter goal in any league this week,” said Bruce. “He is a re­ally tal­ented boy. Could we lose him? You can never say never in foot­ball.

“I am sure we will do ev­ery­thing in our power to keep Kod­jia. There isn’t fi­nan­cial pres­sure to sell and nor should there be – we are As­ton Villa. We have got to get back in the big league. But how can you deny him if Chelsea come in?

“Kod­jia knows, though, he is at a big club so I don’t want to talk about him leav­ing.

“We want to keep im­prov­ing the team and Kod­jia is vi­tal to us.”

Kod­jia’s goals gave Villa their fourth suc­ces­sive home vic­tory and they haven’t con­ceded a goal in that spell. It is their best run since 1983, but Bruce be­lieves there is sim­ply too much pro­mo­tion ground to make up.

“The hor­ri­ble run we had in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary...if that had just been aw­ful we would have been in with a squeak. But it will need a ‘Devon Loch by the teams above us to have a chance now,” he said.

Kod­jia took Scott Ho­gan’s ex­cel­lent pass, beat his man as he turned in­side and un­leashed a ter­rific left-foot shot into the far cor­ner.

The part­ner­ship of Kod­jia and Ho­gan is de­vel­op­ing into some­thing very dan­ger­ous and Nor­wich wob­bled in the face of it. In the 33rd minute Ho­gan had his back to goal when Conor Houri­hane gave him a pass, turned, and smacked a shot that needed a good save from keeper Michael McGovern.

But four min­utes later Ho­gan was out of the game in­jured and Nor­wich had less to worry about.

Cameron Jerome fin­ished with a weak shot af­ter he had by- passed three Villa play­ers and that was gen­er­ally the tone of Nor­wich’s foot­ball. They played well, had plenty of the ball, but no fin­ish­ing power.

A well-timed tackle by Neil Tay­lor, play­ing for the first time since break­ing Sea­mus Cole­man’s leg on in­ter­na­tional duty, stopped sub­sti­tute Nel­son Oliveira get­ting a late equaliser and within two min­utes keeper Sam John­stone’s big punt had the Ca­naries flut­ter­ing all over the place as Kod­jia scored his sec­ond.

“I ex­pected us to score,” said Alan Irvine of his first de­feat as care­taker man­ager. “We nor­mally get plenty of goals, so that wasn’t like us.

“There have been times away from home when I’ve been dis­ap­pointed with the team but I couldn’t say that about to­day. I thought we played well.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

GO JONNY GO: Jonathan Kod­jia scores the first of his dou­ble with a ter­rific left-foot shot across Ca­naries keeper Michael McGovern

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