Contract stories always seem to rear their heads in the new year, and given the talk of Paul Lambert sitting down to extend his deal, it’s interesting to look a little deeper into the squad.
Its quite intriguing given our relatively shallow squad, obvious youthful flavour and reluctance to part with wages that two names should be potentially released in summer 2014.
Indeed, it is interesting to note that despite the generally high regard that most fans hold for Marc Albrighton and Gary Gardner, that they stand to be consigned to the scrap heap of free agents come the summer.
Therefore, I thought it prudent to open the doors to debate;
- Are Albrighton & Gardner worthy of a new contract?
- Could we put their wages to better use?
- Have we got similar talent progressing through the academy or out on loan already?
- Can we feasibly discard players from an already small squad – particularly given the likelihood that both Holt and Bertrand will return to their parent clubs?
Marc Albrighton – Initially burst onto the Villa scene and drew wide ranging praise for creative wide play. However, after suffering a chronic loss of form or “second season syndrome”, Albrighton’s chances have become limited. This most recently culminated in a loan spell at Wigan. Following a recall Marc has impressed with a renewed work rate, but questions remain about his effectiveness or indeed whether wide players of his type will feature in Lambert’s plans. Questions must also be raised as to whether at 24, the step up to a higher grade should already have been achieved.
Gary Gardner – A much heralded product of the academy who has become the byword for “next big thing" among scholarly Villa fans. Serious long term injuries and saturation of midfielders have limited his progress. However, the jury is out on whether Villa will persevere on a player with a blighted injury history and an academy of hopefuls waiting in line. However at just 21 years old there is arguably time or indeed the justification to take a chance that his promise may come to fruition. Or, will he join a long list of "nearly” players; Moore [brothers], Byfield, Cooke, Standing, Hogg, Bannan, Delfouneso, Forrester etc etc etc.