Carew backs partner Gabby
Aston Villa striker John Carew has backed striker partner Gabriel Agbonlahor to come back even stronger next season. The young forward began last season in electric form, netting a hat-trick on the opening day of the season against Manchester City at Villa Park. The England Under-21 international, who is currently on duty with Stuart Pearce's side, continued his good form throughout the first half of the season as he set the pace at the top of the goalscoring charts. However, a loss of form which saw him net just two goals in the latter stages of the season showed signs of the 22-year-old's room for education, and mentor Carew believes he can learn from the experience. "Gabby was fantastic last year," Carew told the Birmingham Mail. "He was one of the top scorers in the league. During the season a player of his age will have ups and downs. "He will be a fantastic player and I think he had a good season again. He's been doing it since I got here and I think next year he will be even better." Despite his indifferent form in the latter stages, Agbonlahor still earned a nomination for the PFA Young Player of The Year award, which was won by team-mate Ashley Young, and 29-year-old Carew thinks there is more to come. "He will continue to score goals. You can score a lot of goals in a short period and then it can suddenly stop for a few games," he added. "That's part of it. You just have to keep your confidence up. You have to do the same because if it's worked before it will work again." Friendly date Meanwhile, Villa have announced a pre-season friendly date with Italian giants Fiorentina which will take place at Villa Park on 8th August. The Serie A side represent a stern challenge for Martin O'Neill's side, but the boss is looking forward to the task. "To follow up our Peace Cup participation with a home game against real quality European opposition in Fiorentina is fantastic and ideal preparation for the start of the season," he said. The friendly date will bring back memories of Villa's pre-season 3-0 thumping of fellow Italians Inter Milan two seasons ago and O'Neill is hoping for a repeat performance. "If it's half as good as the match against Inter Milan here two seasons ago, it will be terrific." Carruthers One player who could join up with the senior squad for pre-season is Arsenal Under-16s captain Samir Carruthers. The teenager is expected to put pen to paper at Villa Park having recently turned down an offer to remain at Emirates Stadium. Villa's academy director Bryon Jones has revealed a deal is in place to bring the promising youngster to their set-up. He said: "He was offered a contract by Arsenal and turned it down. We were given permission by Arsenal to speak to him. "We have agreed in principle a contract and hopefully he is going to sign for us on July 1st."
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