Darren Bent has criticised Dean Smith for playing Danny Drinkwater, as reported by Football Insider.
The Aston Villa loanee has started all three of the league games since arriving from Chelsea, with this including the 2-1 win against Watford.
Notably, his game time in each of those has decreased, as he has played 79, 68 and 56 minutes respectively, which isn’t necessarily a positive sign of how he has been performing.
Bent has given his opinion on this matter, criticising Smith for being so ready to continuously use the 29-year-old: “Drinkwater to me, I don’t know what you think but this is me personally, he doesn’t look fit to me, he’s not match fit yet.
“The manager, I get about playing him there, but when you’re trying to play him all the time, it’s not doing him any favours either, he’s getting hung out to dry, people are running all over him.”
It is hard to argue against this damning indictment when Drinkwater’s performances in a Villa shirt are taken into account.
The fact that he has managed 1.3 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 1 clearance per game, while completing 80.5% of his passes, does indicate that there is a useful player in there – as has previously been obvious, considering he has won the Premier League.
However, the fact that the midfielder has averaged 1.3 fouls per game and been dribbled past 4.3 times indicates that he is severely off the pace.
In fairness, it can be argued that is not completely his own fault, due to the fact that he had only played 59 minutes of league football in one game during his spell at Burnley in the first half of the season.
Therefore, Smith also needs to take some of the blame for the way that Drinkwater has performed, with Bent being correct in his assessment that the Villa manager has hung him out to dry.
To make it even worse, Douglas Luiz got an assist after replacing him against Brighton & Hove Albion, before scoring after coming on against Watford, which led to fans being baffled about why he wasn’t starting, amid the celebrations after the equaliser went in.
Smith needs to take Drinkwater out of the firing line and begin introducing him in a reasonable way, rather than merely leaving the midfielder to be vilified.