Aston Villa boss Unai Emery is expected to be dealt an injury blow this week after Boubacar Kamara suffered a setback in our win over Crystal Palace.
While it was confirmed after the game that the Frenchman would undergo further tests on Sunday to determine the extent of the problem, it’s of course hoped that there is good news and that he isn’t set for an extended spell on the sidelines.
It should be said that it was encouraging that an ankle or Achilles injury was immediately ruled out, and it appears to be a muscle or joint issue in the leg.
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However, judging from his reaction after an awful foul from Cheick Doucoure and the general feeling from Emery in his post-match press conference, the likelihood is that Kamara will miss time.
“I don’t know exactly,” Emery said, as per BirminghamLive. “I don’t know. At the beginning, maybe it’ll be some weeks away. I don’t know exactly. I don’t know the name of it. It’s not the ankle.”
Assistant Damia Vidagany added: “It’s the joint between the two bones in the leg. It’s not a clear diagnosis. We will have the assessment tomorrow. It’s not the ankle or the Achilles.”
Now, given his influence in both phases of the game and how important he has been in anchoring the Villa midfield, it’s going to be a huge blow losing Kamara for any period of time, and so we’ll have to find a solution to cope with his absence, should he be ruled out of action.
In 21 appearances so far this season, the midfield ace has an 85 percent passing completion rate and has won 54% of his tackles. Beyond those figures, his awareness, positioning, composure and technical quality have been a key part of the style Emery is trying to implement, and it’s those elements that will be more difficult to replicate and replace.
McGinn shifting inside the best solution?
Emery opted to bring on Calum Chambers to slot in and help us see out the game on Saturday, and ultimately that will be an option he considers as if he can provide defensive stability in front of the defence, it gives Douglas Luiz more freedom to dictate and get forward.
However, Chambers has struggled to impress when coming into the Villa XI this season, and while the positional change might suit him and take pressure off his shoulders, it’s a gamble that creates concern.
Philippe Coutinho is out with an injury of his own currently, while Leander Dendoncker missed out this weekend due to personal reasons.
That further limits our options, but the Belgian international is perhaps expected back next weekend at West Ham, and although there are still question marks over his suitability and fit in Emery’s style of play, he could be the most reliable option available given it’s a more natural role for him to play.
Nevertheless, it could be argued that the best solution comes from shifting John McGinn inside to fill the void left by Kamara, and then starting one of Leon Bailey or Emiliano Buendia on the right side with Jacob Ramsey on the left.
It would be a shame to do that as McGinn is starting to really impress and find his feet in his current role, and to shackle him in a more defensive midfield position would disrupt the progress and rhythm that he has built.
However, he’ll no doubt do what is best for the team and what Emery needs from him and he’d be a safe pair of hands in a fundamental role for us.
The idea of a youth player getting an opportunity seems highly unlikely given Emery’s trend of not naming any on the bench in recent months despite being short of options. So while it could be argued that Arjan Raikhy could be a possible option, just as Tim Iroegbunam benefited last season, the inexperience and lack of involvement at senior level this season means it’s probably easy to dismiss.
So, McGinn to move into a central role if Kamara is sidelined, or should we leave him where he is and show faith in one of Chambers or Dendoncker, if the latter is available?