Gabby Agbonlahor tipped to be a derby star

Skipper Stiliyan Petrov hailed Gabby Agbonlahor as “untouchable” – and backed him to be Villa’s derby destroyer.

Skipper Stiliyan Petrov hailed Gabby Agbonlahor as “untouchable” – and backed him to be Villa’s derby destroyer.

The striker is ready to be unleashed against Wolves tomorrow and continue his derby hotstreak.

Agbonlahor has six goals in his last 12 derbies against Blues, Wolves and Albion and scored his 50th Premier League goal in the 3-1 win against Blackburn last Saturday.

It has left Petrov purring over the England star, who is central to Villa’s success after the departures of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing.

Agbonlahor has scored the winner at Old Trafford and netted at the Emirates and his captain insisted he can be a world beater.

“If he’s on the top of his game I think he’s untouchable,” said Petrov. “He can do whatever he wants. Look against a world class right-back, (Michel) Salgado, the other day. He was so powerful with his speed and look at the way he scored the goal.

“When you have Gabby on your team people are frightened of his pace and strength.

“That’s Gabby. He usually likes to play at the top as a forward, but he is in another position now and taking to it very well. We all know that it’s hard for him but he’s trying to do the best he can for the team.”

The 24-year-old is playing in a wide role as Darren Bent takes the central striking berth and Petrov tipped his team-mate to be a great goalscorer – as well as a scorer of great goals.

“I like the goal against Blackburn, but he has scored a lot of good goals. I remember against Fulham a couple of seasons ago....he was great,” he said.

“When you see a player like him driving forward who wants to get in the box and score, you will see goals like that. Gabby’s that type of player.

“He’s scored important goals. When you have him in the team you can always count on him getting in a position where he will score.

“He can get himself in these positions and if we can keep him fully fit for this season then he can get between 15 and 20 goals.”

Agbonlahor and Villa are out to avenge last season’s 1-0 home defeat to Wolves – a low point in a difficult season. It saw Villa’s status as the Midlands’ No.1 team seriously challenged for the first time in years as they flirted with relegation.

Albion finished just a point and two places behind in 11th and Blues won the Carling Cup. But, rather than be fearful, Petrov has applauded their rivals’ rise.

Wolves have won both their opening fixtures and the Bulgaria international believes the Midlands can become a footballing powerhouse.

“It’s good if you have more Midlands sides doing well, they can be more powerful and teams can pay them more respect,” he said.

“It’s good when the Midlands teams are doing well. People try to separate them, why is that?

“When you see Manchester United and Manchester City doing very well everyone says ‘the Manchester teams are doing well’ and I don’t know why people try to separate the Midlands teams.

“People talk about the gap between us but it’s about where you’re going to finish and what you can achieve.”

And the 32-year-old expects Wolves to come out flying after wins against Blackburn and Fulham.

He said: “I expect a battle, Mick McCarthy is about fighting until the last minute – even when they’re down they fight until the end.

“They have some quality players, they play well, try to move the ball and can be direct as well.

“They have (Kevin) Doyle who can create a lot of problems, (Matt) Jarvis and a lot of players who we need to be aware of.

“But we’re not worried about what’s happening outside and we know the strengths we’ve got. We’re confident and positive.”