‘I Pushed Him’: Steven Gerrard admits making Nakamba do ‘extra training’

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STEVEN Gerrard admits he has made Marvelous Nakamba carry out extra training sessions at Bodymoor Heath in the Aston Villa star’s bid to return from injury against Tottenham.

Nakamba has not featured for the Birmingham natives since December after undergoing surgery on a knee injury. The Zimbabwe international suffered the blow at Liverpool over the winter, following a Player of the Month calibre November for the claret-and-blue side.

Despite rarely featuring under Dean Smith before the November international break, he soon established a key role under Gerrard. Nakamba opened just three of seven Premier League games under the now-Norwich City boss. Yet he started each of Gerrard’s first five.

Nakamba is now nearing his long-awaited return to action after playing an hour for Aston Villa’s Under-23s last Friday. Gerrard and the Villans’ medical department are now happy that he has overcome the gripe. So, Nakamba should feature in the squad to face Spurs.

Tottenham travel to Villa Park on Saturday night looking to do the double over Aston Villa. Smith’s Villans lost 2-1 in north London in October, with Nakamba an unused substitute.

Gerrard is glad Nakamba is now back in his Aston Villa squad ahead of hosting Tottenham following his lengthy injury. But the England icon is unsure how long he will be able to last if given a start. So, the Villans have pushed the 28-year-old in training to test his limits.

“[I am] extremely happy because when we came into this job, we had the right boost and bounce, and we found a bit of consistency in the team early on,” Gerrard shared during his press conference on Friday. “Marv was a really big part of that.

“He’s still got a bit to go in terms of where he’s at physically. But the part he played in how we wanted the team to look, he’s been missed.

“We can’t get him up to speed quick enough. This week, we’ve pushed him and he’s had extra training. He’s an important player for us. So, when we get him back capable of 90 minutes at this level, I’m sure he’ll be a big help to the team.”

Gerrard took three wins during the five fixtures Nakamba started for Aston Villa before his injury absence began in December. The Villans have since taken five wins from 14 Premier League games, plus two draws. They will also host Spurs on a three-game losing streak.