ASTON Villa coach Steven Gerrard has challenged out-of-favour Warriors midfielder Marvelous Nakamba to force his way back into his plans with 12 games remaining before the January transfer window.
Nakamba has been left in the cold by Gerrard so far this season having been named once on the match day squad, in the 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on August 20 but remained an unused substitute.
The 28-year-old Zimbabwe international has been nowhere near the first team since and even failed to make the squad in the Carabao Cup fixture against third tier side Bolton three days later.
But the defensive midfielder who was expected to make a move away from Aston Villa in the European summer transfer window is reported to have been heavily involved in first team training lately for the struggling side.
Aston Villa have had a difficult start to the season and are currently in 17th place with four points from the first six games including one win, a draw and four defeats.
And Gerrard is now looking to make use of the whole squad to turn the club’s fortunes and has moved to give Nakamba and French midfielder Morgan Sanson another chance.
“First and foremost in football you have to motivate yourself,” Gerrard was quoted by Birmingham Live as saying of Nakamba and Sanson.
“But in terms of the collective I try to motivate the players for every single game. But you’ve got to be professional, that’s what you’re paid to be.
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“Nothing can change as of now, the window’s shut so there should be a hunger and a will to want to perform and do the best they can. They are contracted here to Aston Villa and I’ll certainly get a feel of all those players of where they are at with their thinking, with what they tell me and the feedback I get and we'll go from there,” he added.
While Nakamba and Sanson have been given another opportunity to impress the manager the same cannot be said for French defender Frederic Guilbert who continues to train with the club’s under-21s after he was reportedly told that he’s no longer needed.
Questions have been raised as to why Nakamba, who was pivotal in Gerrard’s team during early days in England a little less than a year ago before he suffered a long term injury.
The Zimbabwean spent the last four months on the sidelines after damaging his knee ligaments in Villa’s 1-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield back in December and only came back in April.
Gerrard was keen to fast track Nakamba into the team and appeared to have the player in his long term plans.
“We’re likely to make some changes. We’re nearly at full health. Marvelous Nakamba was one we’ve been waiting for, and he’s had 60 minutes in the Under-23s and a strong week, so he’ll come into the squad,” he said ahead of the premier league encounter against Tottenham in April.
But something seemed to have changed after the off season break where the player was frozen out of the team during preseason matches.
Nakamba was linked with moves to Everton, Crystal Palace and Newcastle before the close of the summer transfer window but nothing materialised.