The prudent move by Villa during the transfer window to take Ross Barkley on loan, looked to be one of the smartest pieces of business of the close season.
Indeed, Barkley has started his Villa career in fine form, featuring prominently as part of the side that destroyed Champions Liverpool 7-2, whilst also grabbing a superb late winner against Leicester (1-0).
The former Everton and England midfielder had been surplus to requirements for Frank Lampard at Chelsea this term, but immediately improved a Villa midfield that barely kept us in the division last season.
The 26 year old immediately appeared to strike up a dangerous partnership with Jack Grealish, seemingly on the same wavelength in both movement and quality when on the ball. Liverpool and then Arsenal (3-0) found themselves unable to cope with the pairing.
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So it was a concern to see Barkley break down in the opening minutes of last weekend’s home defeat to Brighton (1-2), suffering a hamstring injury after failing to deliver an early set-piece.
Barkley was sidelined last season with troublesome chipped bones in his right foot. This time, the midfielder is reported to be out for at least 3 weeks as Villa go into an important pre-Christmas schedule.
Dean Smith must now ponder who will deputise in Barkley’s absence. Conor Hourihane has been a virtual phantom at Villa Park since his arrival, Bertrand Traore has yet to impress since joing from Lyon and Jacob Ramsay is promising but inexperienced.
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