Blog: Speed demon Agbonlahor return will feel like new signing!
4th Sep 2012
Paul Lambert worked hard with chief executive Paul Faulkner to bring in Joe Bennett, Jordan Bowery, Ashley Westwood and Christian Benteke in the final days of the transfer window.
But the return to full fitness of star striker Gabby Agbonlahor must feel like a new signing in itself.
Agbonlahor not only lives and breathes the claret and blue cause but also offers something unique to the Villa fold - sparkling pace.
Matt Lowton summed it up perfectly when asked who the quickest player at the club was, saying: "Gabby Agbonlahor, without a shadow of a doubt!
"In one game in USA, I think it was Chicago, he hit the ball past a defender and chased it down. The defender looked like he was in reverse.
"It was astonishing! He's unbelievably quick!"
Lambert is looking for a passing mentality from his troops, an eagerness to get on the ball in all positions and be able to play soundly.
But he knows that a key attribute in unsettling opposition defences is pace. It's a killer trait to have in your team - and Agbonlahor offers it in abundance.
Lambert is more than aware of Agbonlahor's importance going-forward and mapped it out after the match at Newcastle.
"Gabby coming back is a major plus. You're not going to catch him if he gets a run at you, that's for sure," said the boss.
"It was a big bonus to have him back. I thought he was exciting - and it's exciting for me to get him back. His speed is incredible.
"Losing Gabby was a blow for us. He's a big player.
"He was playing very well in pre season so that was the disappointing thing in losing him.
"His pace and strength are major pluses for the side."
Agbonlahor is hailed as Bolt-esque in football circles but Lambert will be aware, having worked with him on the training ground, that the forward offers much more than scintillating speed.
Lambert has called for solidarity, spirit and an eagerness to work your socks off for the side - to harass and harry when you haven't got the ball, even the forwards!
That's another principle element of Agbonlahor's game. Anyone who has seen him play for Villa year on year will know that laziness is not in his vocabulary.
As strikers go, Agbonlahor is probably one of the most hard-working in the business.
Those who witnessed the forward's careering chase back to help his defence in the first game of the previous campaign against Fulham are party to that fact.
No question, Lambert will have sought Agbonlahor out after the Newcastle match to say 'it's good to have you back'. That's if he could catch him, of course!
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