The African Cup of Nations is upon us. The moment we`ve been waiting for with about as much enthusiasm as a trip to the dentist. Talismanic striker (or is he a winger? Who knows!) Jonathan Kodjia is leaving us, possibly for a month, at a key time in the season.
With any luck, the Ivory Coast will bomb out and he`ll be home before we know it. But either way, we will be without our leading scorer and most dangerous player for a number of matches over the next month. The question is: how will we cope? Especially now it seems nailed on that Rudy Gestede is leaving, Villa will be left with the bare bones in terms of strikers, possibly opening the door to the redemption of one Gabriel Agbonlahor. How have we come to this?!
But wait. In the finest traditions of Star Wars, there is another. So far, he has been largely on the fringes, lurking in the shadows of the substitutes` bench, occasionally ghosting around on in the wide areas. All the while, hiding in plain sight. I`m speaking, of course, about Ross McCormack. Now is his moment.
It`s fair to say we haven`t seen the best of Ross so far. Since arriving for big money in the summer, he`s spent much of the time injured and/or battling for fitness, and when we have seen him on the pitch, he seems to have played here, there and everywhere. Everywhere expect as a striker, that is. He`s managed a couple of goals, a meagre return from a player who has consistently scored 20+ goals a season in the Championship over the past few seasons.
He has yet to start a consistent run of matches for us but ACON could be his big opportunity. His second half performance against Leeds was probably the best he has played for us so far, and to me, he finally looked fit. Following his goal against Burton on Boxing Day, he displayed much more sharpness and energy, and could easily have won the game for us had Kodjia spotted him wide open on the penalty spot in the dying minutes.
If we can find a supply line, his movement and finishing should do the rest. It`s a big ‘if` however. We have struggled to produce opportunities with any consistency for some years now, so bringing in some quality in the midfield and wider areas is a must in the next week or so. Whoever we sign has to hit the ground running to ensure we don`t lose any further ground on the top six.
If we can add some guile to our attacking play, along with Jack Grealish and ‘Uncle` Albert Adomah, we might just see why we paid such an hefty sum for Ross McCormack. It`s time we saw a return on our investment, and if he is finally injury-free, maybe the loss of Kodjia won`t be as drastic as it seems at the moment.