WANTED: ENDA STEVENS
Believed AWOL with the ‘Bomb Squad’
Reward: Potential Free Transfer to the Championship
The Aston Villa pre-season friendly in Ireland against Shamrock Rovers was meant to have been a dream fixture for forgotten Villa left-back Enda Stevens. The player had been the catalyst for the fixture in the first place, after former Villa boss Alex McLeish plucked him out of nowhere for a fee of around £100,000. He was McLeish’s only visible attempt of forward planning with the Villa team.
Villa supporters were surprised when MOMS first announced Stevens was strapped into the ejector seat out of Villa Park by Paul Lambert. To many, the 23-year-old Irish left-back hadn’t done much wrong. He put in some ok performances when called upon in his nine games last season. Was it a bit rash on Lambert’s part to get rid so swiftly?
Well, you’d take Lambert’s judgement over McLeish’s any day. Of all the positions in the Villa team for a young player to have a chance of breaking through, if he had the goods, you’d have to say, left-back was certainly a case of opportunity knocks. After the drastic drop in form of Stephen Warnock, came the inconsistent and often vilified Joe Bennett. The Villa left-back spot had been there for the taking ever since Stevens left Ireland for B6.
I know managers prefer to play their own purchases, but if Stevens had the potential, surely even the headstrong Lambert would have played him above Bennett last season?
While the higher profile players of the ‘Bomb Squad’ such as Alan Hutton and Stephen Ireland will receive little sympathy from Villa supporters for their predicament, some will feel a sorry for Stevens having the exit door slammed on him. But in the final analysis, if he was good enough, he’d still be a player with a Villa future.
With Stevens joining fellow Irish players Ireland and Given in Villa exile, Villa’s strong Irish contingent at the Shamrock Rovers game, could be forgiven for being disappointed at not seeing their fellow countrymen represent the claret and blue this weekend. Luckily though, Villa are currently producing potentially the future of the Irish national team for the next decade.
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