The club have confirmed that Marvelous Nakamba is set for a long recovery after a knee injury sustained in the defeat to Liverpool required surgery. The Zimbabwean international isn’t expected to feature again until at least March, with a worst case rehabilitation schedule suggesting April 2022.
Nakamba is a victim of particular bad-luck, having recently found himself in the best form of his Villa career. Previously, the midfielder had been peripheral and rarely appeared a first choice pick amongst Villa’s options, but since Steven Gerrard’s arrival has been a stand-out performer. It’s been nothing short of a turnaround.
The is also a double blow with an unpredictable Covid affected festive schedule, likely to cause fixture congestion in the coming weeks and even months. Villa’s hierarchy had also done their homework on Nakamba’s international commitments, having negotiated his release to be deferred until early January for the African Cup of Nations. Nakamba will of course no longer link up with Zimbabwe in Cameroon at all.
Closer to home it brings Gerrard an injury headache in what was turning into a niche position in Villa’s starting XI. Nakamba was becoming an effective disruptor in front of the Villa defence and represents a very different footballer in terms of attributes to that of Douglas Luiz, McGinn and Ramsay.
Gerrard might now need to give consideration to loanee Axel Tuanzebe. The Manchester United defender has struggled for form and match-time during his second spell at Villa Park, and was a player who gained little from the defensive tactical shambles earlier this season. However, we know there is a player in there and his defensive strengths as well as good ball play could see Tuanzebe work well, if anchored ahead of Mings and Konsa.
Whilst many of the January transfer links to date have been speculative at best, this injury could act to force Villa’s hand in the market. Whether the right player is available, for the right money, remains to be seen. It’s certainly not the best time of season to buy and we can all think of many players hastily acquired in desperation.
For Nakamba, he now begins the arduous rehabilitation phase following surgery and a return to full match fitness, hopefully by April 2022.
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