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The last thing you need when chasing promotion is to find your entire first team strike force unavailable to you and Steve Bruce must have really thought the footballing Gods were against him.
Last year’s leading scorer Jonathan Kodja looks like he won’t get near double figures in games let alone goals this year, big money signing Scott Hogan is sidelined following abdominal surgery and Ross McCormack is exiled in Australia.
Add to that injuries for the long serving Gabby Agbonlahor and hot prospect Rushian Hepburn Murphy.
For Villa it really is a case of last man standing!
And before this season not many people away from Villa Park will have heard of that last man. Keinan Davis is just 19 years old and has been a professional footballer for less than two years!
He signed for the Villans in December 2015 from non-league Biggleswade Town and will surely not have expected a fast track route to be the club’s main striker for much of this season.
Yet it is unfair to Davis to say his arrival is purely due to injuries, he already had a place in the team, keeping a £9 million striker Hogan on the bench BEFORE Hogan’s unfortunate problem.
A big strong centre forward, he’s made a real impact in his first Championship season leaving opposition defenders struggling to handle him. He has both pace and power in abundance and has proved a fantastic outlet for his team mates with his strength and ability to hold up the ball.
Davis hasn’t been short of admirers in his short time in the limelight if the press are to be believed, with the Daily Mirror reporting a few weeks ago that Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton all had scouts watching him open the scoring at Burton as Villa cruised to a 4-0 win.
No wonder Villa wasted no time in tabling a new contract which now agreed will keep him at Villa Park until 2020.
Yet it could all have been so different for Davis, originally signed by Stevenage and utilised as a winger before being released because he was too small. Really?
Having been told he wouldn’t make it he was learning a completely different trade as a barber whilst playing largely for fun at Biggleswade who spotted his potential to move into the middle and play centre forward.
Fast forward two years and he really does look like he’s ready for the big time. His goal tally isn’t spectacular yet and it’s something he’ll obviously be keen to work on, adding to the two goals he’s scored so far this season but the Villa team looks far more balanced with Davis leading the line.
Kodja was one of the first names on the team sheet last season and no one can dispute the difference his goals made but he has a real selfish streak, as many goal scorers do, often frustrating better placed team mates with his determination to score virtually every time he gets the ball.
In fact, Kodja scored 41% of Villa’s goals last season with the clubs second highest scorer managing just 5.
This season is a different story though, Davis tends to hold the ball up and constantly looks to bring his team mates into the game, and how they’ve benefitted.
Villa have been struggling to score from midfield for years yet the rise of Davis has coincided with Adomah becoming one of the league’s leading scorers, Hourihane’s goals including a hat trick on Davis’s full debut and Snodgrass and Onomah also weighing in with goals too.
No one would put that all down to Keinan Davis but he’s clearly helped Villa change their goal scoring statistics.
Davis himself admits he wants to add more goals to his achievements so far and he is especially keen to score in front of the massed ranks of Villa Park’s enormous Holte End, telling the club’s official website “I thought back when I was in the U23s that it’d be scary playing in front of the big crowds at Villa Park, but I’ve handled it well. “It drives me on. I want to get that first goal there now, preferably in front of the Holte End.”
Steve Bruce has seen it all before and he knows it’s a big ask for a 19 year old to lead the line for the entire season which is why he’s been quoted recently as saying that Villa will look to bring someone in in January to help him about.
But before then Villa have some massive games coming up in December and Davis will have a crucial part to play.
Keinan Davis may be last man standing but he’s far more than a last resort!
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