Striking Out! Assessing Aston Villa's Forward Options Ahead of the New Season
Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce knows his team will have to score more goals this season if they are to achieve their aim of gaining automatic promotion.
Villa managed just 47 league goals during the 2016/17 campaign, with only three teams in the division finding the back of the net on fewer occasions.
If the team are to beat their tally from last season, the onus will fall heavily on the squad's strikers, in particular Jonathan Kodjia.
The Ivory Coast international bagged an impressive 19 strikes in 36 league appearances for Villa in 2016/17, and became a real fan's favourite in the process.
Yet, Villa simply became too dependent on Kodjia to supply the team's goals, something they will have to remedy this season.
Scott Hogan or Gabby Agbonlahor will likely partner Kodjia up top, assuming Villa play with two strikers. Hogan joined Villa in January last season and endured a frustrating start to his career in the Midlands.
The 25-year-old only found the back on net once for the Villans, in an injury-ravaged second half of the campaign.
However, the striker has looked sharp in pre-season and has scored goals at Championship level before, so many in Holte End are hopeful he will rediscover his goal scoring touch again.
Another forward who needs to find his shooting boots is Gabby Agbonlahor. It really is the last chance saloon for the club's longest serving player, with many Villa fans still feeling disappointed with Agbonlahor's conduct during the disastrous relegation season in 2015/16.
The 30-year-old was suspended, fined and had the captaincy taken off him, after a series of off the field activities.
Like Hogan, Agbonlahor has netted in pre-season and appears to have played his way back into Steve Bruce's plans.
However, if he is to remain there, he will need to better his goal tally of one, from last season.
With Ross McCormack looking set to leave the club in the coming weeks, it is likely Villa will turn to their youth ranks for back up to the first team, unless they become more active in the transfer market.
Youngsters Rushain Hepburn-Murphy, Keinan Davis and Callum O'Hare have all played for the first team under Bruce, having impressed at under-aged levels.
Given the squad's lack of depth in this position, one of the trio could find themselves playing regular first team football next season.