After a barn-storming start to the new Premier League season, it’s been no surprise to see Aston Villa boss Dean Smith look to stick with a tried-and-trusted set-up for these opening few weeks.
Smith’s side went into the international break off the back of a thumping 3-0 victory at Arsenal, which saw them leap up the table into sixth – in fact, if they were to win their game in hand, they would go top of the table on goal difference, ahead of current league leaders Leicester City.
One change the Villa boss may want to make is, bringing Marvelous Nakamba into the side. John McGinn has had a difficult start to the season both at club and international level, and if there were a player in the starting line-up who you could argue has been the worst of a great bunch, then the Scotland international would be that man.
Nakamba has played just 13 minutes of Premier League football this season, and hasn’t taken to the field in the top-flight since he came on for the closing stages of Villa’s 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool early last month.
Of course, much of that is to do with Smith wanting to keep the momentum going, but the midfielder could give Villa an extra dimension to the out-of-form McGinn.
The £7.2m-rated ace goes under the radar with his work in the engine room, and former Villa ace Alan Hutton was quick to point that out earlier in March.
He said: “I think Nakamba’s done well. Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s been a difficult season, it was always going to be a difficult season. I think Nakamba can come out after this season thinking he’s played his part. I think he is probably underrated as well.
“There’s so much focus on the likes of Tyrone, Jack, John, even Wesley. It’s been difficult but I think in terms of underrated, Nakamba. He’s went about his business very well, especially when the spotlight has been on other members of the squad.”
Giving the side some fresh legs could ensure Villa keep shocking the rest of the Premier League, and it might be the first brave selection call that Smith might want to make this season.