Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard used his Friday press conference to lament the timing of the recent round of international fixtures, as his side prepare to face Leeds United at Elland Road on Sunday. (Leeds United 11/8, draw 5/2, Aston Villa 21/10).

Villa (7/4 to finish in top half) came into the international break on an up-turn in form, having taken a point off champions Manchester City at home and all three against Southampton last time out, also at Villa Park.

Those results brought to an end a run of three consecutive defeats to Crystal Palace, West Ham and Arsenal that saw pressure mount on the former Liverpool midfielder’s shoulders, and he could not help but voice his frustrations at the timing of the break.

“You’re obviously well aware of when the breaks are going to come. It is what it is,” Gerrard told reporters.

“But, from a selfish point of view, we took four points from six against City and Southampton and we seemed to have turned a corner. Our form has improved in certain parts of our play.”

“We need to roll forward, we’ve got a lot of games from now until the World Cup.”

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The return to action also brings Gerrard an injury headache, with Boubacar Kamara ruled out until after the World Cup having sustained knee ligament damage in the clash with Southampton. The 22-year-old is yet to miss a match this season, but was removed from play before half-time against the Saints.

With defender Diego Carlos also out long-term with a ruptured Achilles, Villa’s woes were increased by the revelation that Lucas Digne is set for time on the sidelines after a heel injury forced him to pull out of the latest France squad.

“It is very difficult to put a timescale on Lucas, but he will certainly be missing in the coming weeks,” Gerrard added.

“It is quite a frustrating one and again another big player missing for us.”

The Elland Road clash kicks off at 4:30pm on Sunday. Last season’s meetings brought a total of nine goals, with Villa taking the spoils in a 3-0 win in West Yorkshire after a 3-3 draw at Villa Park.

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