When Boubacar Kamara joined Aston Villa from Marseille in the summer, he was surely hoping that some impressive performances in the Premier League would earn him a spot in Didier Deschamps’ World Cup squad.
Unfortunately for the midfielder, a combination of Villa’s poor form and injury problems meant that he didn’t make the France squad that was announced on Wednesday.
At the time it was suggested that the knee ligament injury would rule him out of the tournament in Qatar, but the 22-year-old has clearly worked unbelievably hard behind the scenes to get back fit, making his return from the bench against Manchester United last weekend.
Sadly, that was not enough to convince Deschamps that he was worth taking on the plane, although he does have a plethora of incredible talents including Eduardo Camavinga and Aurielien Tchouameni to choose from in midfield, with former Villa flop Jordan Veretout also making the squad.
Therefore, Kamara will no doubt be disappointed and keen to prove himself, so Unai Emery should hand him his first start back from injury when his side travel to Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup on Thursday.
The game represents an opportunity to rest some tired legs and give opportunities to lesser-seen players, as Premier League managers will perhaps not be too fussed if defeat in the League Cup means they avoid further fixtures in an already-congested season.
Emery will want to have Kamara fully match-fit for when the Premier League resumes after the World Cup, so giving him 90 minutes against Erik ten Hag’s side makes a lot of sense, while it shouldn’t weaken a side that triumphed against the Red Devils at Villa Park last time out.
The former Marseille man had already won over Villa journalist Dan Rollinson just a couple of games into the new season, as he described the 22-year-old as the club’s “best midfielder” after the 2-1 win against Everton.
Therefore, with World Cup disappointment no doubt on his mind, the £26m-rated “phenomenon” – as dubbed by past teammate Rolando – should be given a chance to impress at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. It could just inspire him to reach even greater heights.