In the summer transfer window, Aston Villa made arguably the most high profile signing in Championship history when they acquired former Chelsea captain John Terry. Even though Terry has a massive amount of football experience compared to the rest of the Villa squad, some fans still question whether Terry still ‘had it’ at the age 36.
Those questions were quickly put to bed with Terry showing just how good he still is with very impressive and consistent performances throughout the season so far. Not only did he show his own abilities, but it has been clear throughout this season that he is having a very positive effect on his centre back partner James Chester. Even though Chester was one of Villa’s best players last season, having Terry beside him and learning from him is clearly making him a better defender and a better player overall.
But having played every single minute of Aston Villa’s first 15 games this season, tragedy struck against Sheffield Wednesday when Terry limped off injured in the first half as Villa went on to lose that game 2-1 at Villa Park. It was revealed by Villa owner Dr Tony Xia that Terry had broken his fifth metatarsal and would be out for six to eight weeks. With Terry gone, manager Steve Bruce will have to look at other options to sure up his back line.
He came on as Terry’s substitute when he went off injured against Sheffield Wednesday, it seems Christopher Samba seems the most likely replacement for Terry while he is recovering from his injury. But I am not sure he is the best option for Bruce. Unlike Terry who seems to be as good as he ever was, we have seen clear decline from Samba over the years and I don’t think he’ll be able to keep up with the demand of playing 90 minutes every game on the back line with Chester. He has had a couple of moments this season and did score against Sheffield Wednesday. But as a consistent partner for Chester, I don’t think he’d be up to the task.
Being an outcast at Villa since he captained them to relegation in 2015, it feels like Micah Richards hasn’t seen any action since Bruce became manager at Villa. But with options at centre back being slim, this could be his time to make a come back. Villa fans may not like this option, but I believe it is possible that Richards could show some very good qualities playing Championship level football. He’s reasonably quick, has a fantastic jump and does know how to be a leader on the pitch, all qualities Villa could use while Terry is on the sidelines. So however unlikely this option may be, I think Bruce should at least consider giving this former captain a second chance.
Another unlikely option, but some Villa fans may remember the home games against Sheffield Wednesday last season. Nathan Baker was injured during the game and instead of bringing on either Tommy Elphick or Micah Richards, Bruce chose to move Jedinak into defence which turned out to be a genius move by the manager as he was a stand out performer for the rest of that game and the next couple of games playing centre back. I believe this is the best option for Bruce to take as Jedinak has already shown he has the ability to play in defence and I think he is the best player he has at his disposal to play in that position.
The final option is Tommy Elphick. Another outcast of the Villa team after showing he is simply not good enough to get into the starting 11. Even though he is an option for Bruce to use, I think he should be his last resort as whenever Elphick has played in a Villa shirt, he never seems to perform.
Overall, I am slightly worried for this Villa team during Terry’s absence. They have had a bit of luck with Terry’s injury coming in their last game before the international break. But they will still have to play a number of games without their club captain. Whether they keep up their current play off push is down to other players like James Chester and the rest of the defence stepping up in his absence. If they do this, then they will be ready to push on for the rest of the season when Terry returns, but that is a lot easier said than done.
How do you think Aston Villa will cope without John Terry? Let us know in the comments below!