Talk about a rollercoaster of a home debut. Leon Bailey came on as a second-half substitute last weekend against Everton for the first time in front of Aston Villa’s own fans and proceeded to whip in the corner which led to Lucas Digne’s own goal, as well as firing in himself just minutes later.
It was like a hurricane had blown through Villa Park such was the wave of energy that the Jamaica international created, but it was only for a fleeting few moments, with the winger later forced off through injury.
He came, he saw, he conquered, and he left – all in the space of about 14 action-packed minutes.
Since then, Villa manager Dean Smith has confirmed that Bailey will not be available for the Premier League clash against Manchester United on Saturday afternoon due to that injury he picked up last week.
The 50-year-old will have to make some big calls on how he goes about replacing the former Bayer Leverkusen star, but one man to whom he should consider turning is Bertrand Traore.
Since arriving from Lyon last year, the Burkina Faso international has struggled to get consistent game-time but has shown flashes of the “immense talent” that Smith has hailed – his debut campaign in English football saw him manage a respectable total of seven goals and seven assists in the Premier League, albeit with a frustrating lack of consistency.
When he’s on song, he can be a tough customer for any opposition, and his performance in midweek in the Carabao Cup against Chelsea showed signs that he could be ready to make his impact.
Writing in his post-match player ratings for Birmingham Mail, Ashley Preece gave him a seven, saying: “Started on the right of a three behind Archer and the Burkinabe was dangerous. Traore had a hand in Archer’s two first-half chances, the second one a nice weighted ball into the teenage striker after running from the halfway line.
“Traore was nice on the eye and soldiered on after taking a knock to the neck in the first half. Linked up nicely with Sanson in the middle prior to the Frenchman’s withdrawal. Traore also had a couple of tame, low efforts saved by Kepa.”
Papy Djilobodji, his former teammate at Chelsea, said: “Bertrand (Traore), whom I knew in Chelsea, technically he is very, very good: with his feints, he is very hard to stop.”
The £18m-rated star could ensure that Villa don’t miss Bailey at all by delivering an eye-catching performance of his own against United on Saturday.