Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has revealed why Carney Chukwuemeka, Anwar El Ghazi and Kortney Hause aren’t with the squad that has travelled to Australia for our pre-season tour.
After winning at Walsall on Saturday, our preparations for the new campaign continue in Australia with three pre-season games ahead against Leeds Utd, Brisbane Roar and Man Utd.
While it will be an important trip from a commercial perspective, it will also be a crucial time for Gerrard and his squad to improve and work towards being at their best when we take on Bournemouth in our Premier League season opener on August 6.
Those who weren’t involved at Walsall after being given an extended break were the first to travel to Australia earlier this week, and now the rest of the squad has joined them to complete the group. However, there are some notable absentees, and Gerrard refreshingly cleared up why.
“Kortney Hause has had a small operation in the knee area and he can’t do much from a pitch-based point of view, so we thought the sensible decision was to leave him at Bodymoor,” Gerrard told VillaTV. “We’ve got fantastic medical facilities at Bodymoor, so we felt it was the sensible decision to leave Kortney back. Hopefully he can join us in the coming weeks once he starts getting back on the pitch. We wish him a speedy recovery.
“Anwar El Ghazi’s partner is about to give birth at any given moment. They’re going to have their first child together, so it didn’t make sense for him to be so far away from his family. We did the sensible thing for him.
“The other one is Carney (Chukwuemeka). Carney’s yet to sign a contract offer that’s been in place for some time now, so I’ve decided that the best thing for him would be to continue his training programme back at Bodymoor.”
While both the Hause and El Ghazi decisions make sense, the choice on Chukwuemeka will no doubt spark questions as to his future at the club given his current contract expires at the end of this season.
Ultimately, it would be a major disappointment if he were to leave the club given the talent he possesses and the potential he has, but this is now the time to buy-in and commit his future to Villa if he wishes to.
His delay on signing a new deal suggests that he has doubts and perhaps is looking elsewhere, and so it could be argued that Gerrard and Villa have handled the situation perfectly as he doesn’t want any distractions and will undoubtedly prefer to plan and work with those who he knows will be with him for the long-term.
Time will tell if Chukwuemeka opts to agree on new terms at Villa, but for now, it feel as though it is becoming increasingly unlikely and so an exit this summer would make more sense if he doesn’t wish to extend.