Having captained Crewe Alexandra aged just 22, academy graduate Ashley Westwood was tipped for big things upon signing for Aston Villa in August 2012, with some touting the £2 million midfielder to flourish into an England international.
His playing-style often compared to Michael Carrick’s, the deep-lying playmaker has been a regular in the Villa side since, with manager Paul Lambert backing him this week to follow in the footsteps of teammate Fabian Delph in earning a Three Lions call-up after the club's successful start to the season.
However, most supporters would tell you that the 24-year-old hasn't quite reached the heights many expected him to over the past two seasons, with his failure to push on during his second campaign a particular disappointment given the hopes the claret and blue faithful had.
The club's overall struggles were at least somewhat to blame for that, but the sentiment remains that he is still to demonstrate that he can become a genuine star at Villa Park, rather than just a useful contributor.
Nevertheless, Westwood still possesses a great deal of potential and, given the midfield openings in the England squad following the international retirements of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, there is no doubt a prime opportunity to catch the eye of Roy Hodgson, as proved by Delph's recent call-up.
Hodgson recently experimented with Jack Wilshere at the base of a midfield diamond during the 2-0 victory over Switzerland in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier, but few believe that would be the Arsenal man's best role going forward, despite ensuing comparisons to Andrea Pirlo and Javier Mascherano.
It is, however, a position which one could envisage Westwood filling in the future should he start to realise some of his undoubted promise, but has he shown enough at this stage to warrant consideration?
|2014-15||Team||Duel Won||Duel Success||Total Pass||Pass Acc||Touches||Unsuccessful Touch||Poss Lost All||Ball Recovery||Apps||Mins|
|Ashley Westwood||Aston Villa||5||35.71%||153||77.12%||207||3||55||13||4||360|
Looking at the stats so far this season, there doesn't appear to be much justification for Westwood's inclusion in the lineup at least, with Wilshere leading in every category, despite playing far few minutes, while recent call-up Jack Colback has also outperformed him this season.
Of course, Wilshere could be pushed into a preferred attacking role in the future, but the lack of established options behind him, as well as the presence of Delph and Jordan Henderson, means he might be better suited to sticking there for the moment if Hodgson continues with the 4-4-2 diamond.
It's far from out of the question that Westwood could earn a place in the squad down the road, considering the dearth in talented English players who can admirably fill such a role, but I'd suggest he still needs more time at the club level to further prove himself before that scenario becomes realistic.