The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Dan Barnes

HIT­MAN Jonathan Kodjia is des­per­ate to con­trib­ute to the As­ton Villa cause now his in­jury night­mare is fi­nally over.

The 27-year-old Ivory Coast in­ter­na­tional broke his an­kle in the penul­ti­mate game of last sea­son, against Black­burn Rovers at Ewood Park, and was forced to spend five months in re­hab while the rest of his team­mates pre­pared for the cur­rent cam­paign.

Kodjia, who joined Villa form Bris­tol City for a po­ten­tial £15m in Au­gust last year, re­turned to ac­tion as a late sub­sti­tute against Mid­dles­brough this month and claims the mes­sages of en­cour­age­ment from the Villa Park faith­ful helped him through the dark­est days of his en­forced sab­bat­i­cal.

“The game at Black­burn was a very bad mo­ment for me. The in­jury was very dif­fi­cult for me to take,” said Kodjia. “Thank­fully, it’s fin­ished now. Now it’s time to push on.

“The fans helped me so much. They sent me mes­sages ev­ery day on so­cial me­dia. That in­spired me.

“It’s not easy com­ing back from in­jury. It’s hard work ev­ery day, but the sup­port­ers kept me go­ing. Their mes­sages pushed me for­ward.

“I think one of the hard­est mo­ments for me was see­ing the lads start the sea­son and not be­ing able to help – that’s tough. Now I just want to play. I am so de­ter­mined to come in and help the team.

“It was so good to put the Villa shirt on again. It made me smile.”

Kodjia, who hit 22 goals last sea­son, says he won’t fall into the trap of rush­ing his ef­forts to re­dis­cover his match sharp­ness.

He added: “I just need a bit of pa­tience now, some time, be­fore I am up to my very top level.

“As I get fit­ter, I will get stronger and that’s when you will see the best of me.”

HUN­GRY: Jonathan Kodjia

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