Stiliyan Petrov has been ruled out of Aston Villa's starting lineup for at least two months with a knee injury. While Petrov may not have been at the top of his game for Aston Villa this season, the captain still occupies an essential role on the pitch, and his absence serves to expose the team's greatest weakness: a lack of depth at central midfield.
While Nigel Reo-Coker has regained his spot after Martin O'Neill parted ways with the Villa, the players remaining on the bench don't inspire much confidence. Stephen Ireland came over as makeweight when James Milner went to Manchester City in August, but Ireland is not a like-for-like replacement for the English international and is incapable of replicating his play as a box-to-box midfielder. To put it bluntly, Ireland has no defensive capabilities. It is probable that Steve Sidwell will be selected to replace Petrov, but with Sidwell is just as likely to make a nasty tackle as he is to win the ball.
7500 to Holte author Aaron Campeau writes about Aston Villa's problem with midfield depth:
Aside from that, a club of Villa's size simply must have more quality depth at such a crucial position. Petrov, Reo-Coker and Sidwell are the only players on the squad capable of playing the most important position on the pitch at anything approaching Premier League quality. Fabian Delph should be back before the season is out, but there's no guarantee of his fitness. The club desperately need another option in the center, and if one positive can come from Petrov's injury it would be the people in charge recognizing that.
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