Aston Villa’s Alan Hutton is reported to be set for crunch talks with Paul Lambert, after the manager made the surprise decision to block a move to rivals West Bromwich Albion.
Signed from Tottenham Hotspur under former boss Alex McLeish in August 2011, Hutton was a regular in his first season at the club but has not appeared in a single first-team game since the arrival of Lambert the following summer.
Sent out on loan spells to Nottingham Forest, Real Mallorca and Bolton Wanderers over the past two campaigns, in an attempt to lessen the blow of his £30,000-per-week wages, there appeared to be no future for the right-back at Villa Park and most assumed he would be heading for an exit this summer, with the team desperate to free up funds to bolster their thin and inexperienced squad.
However, upon looking set for a much-anticipated move to West Brom, Lambert has now declared that Hutton is not for sale, in a decision which has come as surprise to both fans and the Scot himself, given past less-than-flattering comments about the 40-times capped international.
A part of the infamous “Bomb Squad” – the name given to the overpaid and underperforming members of the Villa squad who were jettisoned from the first-team upon Lambert’s arrival – the ex-Rangers man played in in the second-half of Thursday’s 3-1 friendly win over Mansfield and it seems as though he could well be given the chance to win a place in the starting XI for the start of the season.
Whether he should, however, is open for debate, but there is an argument to suggest that the 29-year-old is currently the best option at the position, with little cash to bring in reinforcements as want-away owner Randy Lerner struggles to find potential buyers for the financial stricken club.
Former first-choice Matthew Lowton was lacklustre during his second Premier League season, while the versatile Leandro Bacuna, who deputised for parts of 2013-14, is not a natural full-back and was too often caught out in defence.
Once a highly-touted prospect, Hutton is clearly not the same player who earned a £5 million move from Rangers to Tottenham in January 2008 but, if he could at least prove a league-average contributor in 2014-15 for Villa, then that might be valuable enough.
In an ideal world, his significant wages would be off the books but desperate times call for desperate measures and, as the team bid to avoid a fourth consecutive relegation-threatened season, both sides could be forced to reconcile their differences.