LONDON • Aston Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor has been dropped from the first team pending an investigation, after pictures were published by the British media of him apparently smoking a shisha pipe.
Villa, who are bottom of the Premier League, announced that the former England international would not be included in the squad for today's Premier League game against Chelsea, as the club look into his behaviour while on holiday in the United Arab Emirates.
The decision to remove Agbonlahor from the squad was taken by caretaker manager Eric Black, who took over after Remi Garde was sacked on Tuesday following a dismal five-month spell in charge.
"There's an ongoing investigation which will run its course, I'm sure," he told reporters yesterday.
Villa, with only three league wins, are nine points adrift at the bottom of the table and 12 short of Norwich City in 17th place.
Agbonlahor, 29, was pictured during a trip to Dubai with club team-mate Micah Richards and Crystal Palace pair Dwight Gayle and Fraizer Campbell.
"It's part and parcel, unfortunately, of modern-day football. I can assure you Aston Villa's not the only club that's had to deal with this," Black added.
Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink, meanwhile, has confirmed that Alexandre Pato, who joined the club on loan in January, could make his Blues debut.
The Football Association has also announced that Diego Costa must serve an extra one-match ban after being sent off in last month's FA Cup quarter-final loss at Everton.
"Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing on Thursday, Chelsea's Diego Costa has been given a one-match suspension, fined £20,000 (S$38,540) and warned as to his future conduct," the ruling body said in a statement.
ASTON VILLA V CHELSEA
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