After a summer transfer window that saw 13 new players arrive at the club with a spend of over £130m, expectations were high for Aston Villa as the West Midlands side returned to the Premier League after a three-year absence.
Shrewd additions throughout the squad in the form of club-record signing Wesley, defensive midfielder Douglas Luiz and veteran goalkeeper Tom Heaton were indicative of an ambitious transfer policy in B6, yet the signing of one defender in the form of Matt Targett was a promising move given his international calibre with England’s youth set-up alongside top-flight experience with Southampton.
Yet after four Premier League games, Targett is yet to play a minute for Villa in the top-flight. The defender was left out of the starting XI at the expense of Neil Taylor for the first three league games, and then when given a chance to impress Dean Smith, the former Southampton man went off injured against Crewe with a hamstring problem.
Targett is expected to return for Villa over the coming weeks, and boss Smith will be faced with a serious dilemma as to who he opts for at left-back. Whilst Welsh international Taylor does represent a more experienced option on the left flank of Villa’s defence, Targett’s energy and youthfulness combined with the fact he certainly has a point to prove in the Premier League could mean that his selection ahead of Taylor could be a decision that is handsomely rewarded.
The £14m summer signing has 43 Premier League appearances at the age of 23, and alongside the likes of Tyrone Mings and Bjorn Engels at the heart of Villa’s defence, this could be a player with the ability to make an impactful contribution with his incisive runs and impressive link-up play down the left-flank.
The Taylor v Targett conundrum is likely to trouble Smith over the coming weeks, but competition for places will be vital if Villa are to retain their Premier League status in 2019/20.