After Nathan Baker suffered an injury in the win against Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce decided to move midfielder Mile Jedinak back into the centre of defence rather than bring Tommy Elphick or Micah Richards on from the substitutes’ bench.
It was a decision that would have confused Villa supporters, but the Australian adapted to the new role well and was again named alongside James Chester at centre-back for the trip to Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
The 32-year-old put in another impressive performance at the DW Stadium, and has perhaps shown manager Bruce that he could be a long-term option in that position as the club look to win promotion back to the Premier League next season.
As well as keeping a clean sheet in the 2-0 win against the Latics, Jedinak showed that he has the quality and experience to thrive in what was a new role for the former Crystal Palace man.
He made an impressive 13 clearances, two blocks and one interception to help his side pick up all three points, while he also made two successful tackles.
Perhaps more impressive was the fact that he didn’t commit a single foul, while he showed his strength in the air – something that can often be required at this level – winning six aerial duels.
While the stats are impressive, Bruce will of course be aware that Jedinak was up against a Wigan side that are battling at the wrong end of the table and therefore the Australian would face tougher challenges in other games.
However, he did also keep a strong Sheffield Wednesday attack out for more than an hour previously too, and Bruce will be pleased that he has another option at the heart of his defence if he needs one ahead of what will be a crucial 2017/18 campaign.