The Chalkboard: Mile Jedinak can help boost Villa’s promotion hopes

Glenn Whelan has been a consistent and reliable figure in recent months for Aston Villa. So for the Irish international to allow Dwight Gayle in to score last weekend was hugely uncharacteristic.

The midfielder failed to control the ball from a pass towards him and then West Brom’s prolific frontman did the rest, rifling an arrow of a shot into the back of the net. It gave Villa the worst possible start to their play-off hopes.

Dean Smith’s side ultimately went onto win the first leg but it’s still a goal that could have a large say going into the return fixture at the Hawthorns this week.

It’s extremely likely the Villans will have to score again. However, they’ll also have to ensure defensive solidity.

On the chalkboard

It would be harsh to drop Whelan after some of his performances towards the back end of the season but if Smith is looking for someone who can come in and solidify the midfield then Mile Jedinak could be the answer.

The Australian has played most of his football in defence this term. Initially, under Steve Bruce he was selected at centre-half but it was a decision that proved disastrous. But under the current manager, his performances have improved significantly, particularly at the back.

Therefore, a return to the starting XI and in his more natural midfield position could be extremely beneficial for the Villans.

He knows how to look after the ball and his defensive discipline is arguably better than ever.

Conor Hourihane not starting in the first leg indicated that Villa needed a little more protection. Going into the away clash, that will be even more important.

Jedinak, therefore, could be a candidate to replace Whelan and standing at 6 ft 2, he’d certainly offer a more robust nature to the midfield.

It could also give Villa more flexibility. In defensive phases, he could shift into a three-man defence, but going forward he could then move forward to anchor the midfield. After Whelan’s mistake, it’s something that should be considered.

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