Manager Paul Lambert had stated last season that he didn’t expect Alan Hutton to ever appear in an Aston Villa shirt again but, as the new season draws near, it looks like that prediction could be far off the mark.
Blocked from a move to midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion earlier this summer, Hutton has since been a central part of the Villa’s pre-season plans, with his goal in the 1-0 win over Walsall further pointing towards a shock first-team recall for the 2014-15 campaign.
‘The manager said everybody can start from scratch and he’s given me the opportunity to show my worth,’ Hutton told Sky Sports News after Monday’s match.
‘I’m excited overall. I really never thought I’d be throwing on a Villa shirt again so to have that opportunity to try again is great for me, and hopefully I can grab it with both hands.’
Signed from Tottenham Hotspur under former boss Alex McLeish in 2011, the Scottish international was a regular in his first season at the club but has not made a single appearance 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 seasons, in an attempt to soften the blow of his £30,000-per-week wages, most assumed he would be shipped out to make room for much-needed reinforcements but, with the club’s lack of depth at right-back, the ex-Rangers man might just prove the best option at the position going forward.
That would prove a remarkable comeback for the once-jettisoned “bomb squad” member, and Villa fans have been taking to Twitter as a result to comment on his shock return to the setup.
Alan Hutton. Like a new signing isn't it— Martin Laurence (@martinlaurence7) August 5, 2014
What a remarkable turnaround for Alan Hutton (assuming he goes on to start the season) shows just how bad an idea the bomb squad was #avfc— o ƃ Ǝ ǝ ɥ ⊥ (@TheEgo74) August 5, 2014
Alan Hutton scores for Aston Villa #ThingsINeverThoughtIWouldSay— David Brown (@DaveyB95) August 5, 2014
Not watching today, but Alan Hutton has looked legitimately pretty good this pre-season and I don't know how to process that— Aaron Campeau (@AaronCampeau) August 5, 2014
Alan Hutton had decent game tonight starting it like him— shane owen (@uhaowen) August 5, 2014
Alan Hutton has scored for Villa tonight against Walsall. Admit it, you completely forgot he existed didn't you?— Spurtino (@Spurtino) August 5, 2014
Alan Hutton scored for Villa in tonight's friendly. Everyone take a minute to let that sink in. #AnythingIsPossible— Matt Procter (@RoflProcter) August 5, 2014
Alan Hutton has scored for Villa, surely the apocalypse is near?— Karl Renar (@karlskorner) August 5, 2014