After a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Wolves last time out in the Premier League, Aston Villa will be hoping to get back to winning ways when they take on Newcastle on Friday night.
Dean Smith’s side couldn’t find a way past Rui Patricio in the Wolves goal, with Ollie Watkins incredibly unlucky not to find himself on the score-sheet after striking the bar twice.
One man who was really shocking for Villa and let Smith down in that game, was summer signing Bertrand Traore.
Writing in his post-match player ratings for The Birmingham Mail, Ashley Preece slammed the winger for his virtually anonymous display. He said: “The winger wasn’t in the game enough here and was all too casual to allow Neto to cross as Coady struck the post. His knee jarred in the turf which forced his substitution in the second half. Villa’s forward play wasn’t there in the second half and Traore was, in truth, non-existent.”
His performance against Wolves was just the latest in a run of disappointing outings from the talented right-winger – he’s now managed just one measly goal and assist in his last nine Premier League games.
That sort of run is just simply not going to cut it if Villa harbour any intentions of trying to claim a European place for next season. Smith has had to make do without Anwar El Ghazi in recent games due to injury, but the Villa boss confirmed in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game that the Dutchman is ready and raring to go.
Simply put, Traore just hasn’t been good enough in recent weeks to warrant being kept in the starting line-up, and with El Ghazi back to full fitness, Smith has some real options for out wide again.
One call he has to make for the game against Newcastle on Friday night is to drop Traore. It would certainly be a ruthless call to make given how he was one of Villa’s marquee signings last summer and has started 16 of the last 17 Premier League games, but it’s one that has to be made to freshen things up for the Midlands side.
Smith has surely run out of patience with the wide-man for his lack of real end product, and with some crunch fixtures against the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City coming up soon, he knows a win against Newcastle is absolutely vital.
The £17m-rated Traore just hasn’t done enough to warrant being a part of that side, he must be dropped.