Aston Villa set to bolster defence with January recall for Tommy Elphick

Dean Smith is set to hand Tommy Elphick a second chance at Aston Villa, according to a report from the Sunday People, picked up by HITC.

What’s the word?

The Sunday People (23/12; page 50) reported that Smith has decided to offer Elphick a chance at Villa Park redemption by recalling the 31-year-old from his loan to Hull City.

Summer dealings focused on luring attackers to the club left Villa vulnerable at the back, and forced to rely on defensive midfielder Mile Jedinak and right-back Alan Hutton to form makeshift centre-backs on a combined nine occasions.

Even though Elphick left the club in the summer, his single Championship appearance in claret and blue – coming against Hull – has kept the 6 foot 2 ace joint fourth for appearances in the role.

A lack of alternatives to James Chester and Axel Tuanzebe have played a part in the Villans holding one of the worst defensive records in the English second tier. Over the side’s 23 matches, they have conceded 37 goals, just three fewer than worst-of-all Sheffield Wednesday.

Had it not been for the Villa Park outfit’s free-scoring offence – bosting the second-highest tally with 45 goals – who knows where Smith’s side would be in the league rather than their current 11th-place standing.

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Elphick’s second chance to prove his worth

Under Steve Bruce, the £25,000-a-week star hardly got a look in and recorded just six appearances over the course of the 2017/18 season before a loan move to Reading in January – even there, he featured just four times.

It has been a different story at Hull, however, as the 6 foot 2 centre-back has featured in 17 of the Tigers’ 23 Championship fixtures and was named the club’s Player of the Month for October.

Altogether, the man who helped AFC Bournemouth into the Premier League has completed 88% of his attempted tackles, while clearing the ball 112 times.

Elphick’s disciplinary record is also exemplary, having been shown the yellow card on three occasions.

The £1.8million rated defender has also entered into the final months of his Villa contract, making his possible return make-or-break for his future there.