This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Former Aston Villa striker Darren Bent has questioned the decision to omit Conor Hourihane from the starting line-up following his recent exploits in the Carabao Cup.
The Birmingham-based club faced Crewe Alexandra last week, and manager Dean Smith rung the changes to give game time to players on the peripheral of his starting XI.
They won the match 6-1 with Hourihane managing to bag a brace from midfield while the likes of Marvelous Nakamba, Keinan Davis and Ezri Konsa all featured.
At the weekend, they returned to Premier League action and were defeated 1-0 by Crystal Palace, their third loss in four Premier League matches.
Hourihane, who started the opening game against Tottenham Hotspur, appeared to do no wrong in that game and proved he’s still raring to go in midweek, but that wasn’t enough to garner a starting spot at the weekend.
Speaking to Football Insider, Bent said:
“Hourihane must be thinking: ‘What is going on here?’
“Yes, he got off the bench but he scored two goals in the week. He must be thinking what does he need to do to be starting, but they’re going to need all hands on deck.”
The Republic of Ireland international has been at the club since 2017 – making 114 appearances in the claret and blue, but his game time since gaining promotion to the top-flight has been very much sparse, thus making his future unclear.
He was trusted with the reigns in defensive midfield against the Champions League finalists where he recorded an 88% passing success rate and a match rating of 7.06, per WhoScored. His only start of the season so far in the league.
Then to go and do the job asked of him last week in the Carabao Cup by scoring two goals as well as winning the match, he must feel hard done by to have not been selected for the Palace fixture.
They lost another match, and in midfield, it was only really John McGinn, who could come away with any plaudits, scoring a 7.7 as WhoScored‘s star man.
Summer arrival Douglas Luiz has only shown his quality in small glimpses whilst Jack Grealish was particularly poor, scoring a rating of just 6.3.
There’s really not much more the 28-year-old can do other than take his chance, if and when he gets it.