Carles Gil’s first few Aston Villa performances since arriving in England earned him widespread praise among the claret and blue faithful, but new boss Tim Sherwood’s latest comments, per TalkSport, suggest fans might not be seeing as much of the Spanish midfielder as hoped over the coming weeks.
Signed from Valencia in the transfer window for around £3.25 million, Gil made an immediate impact during his first weeks at Villa Park, scoring a speculator full debut strike in the 2-1 FA Cup win over Bournemouth, before setting up Jores Okore in last month’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea to help end the club’s 11-hour goal drought.
While his introduction hasn’t managed to turn around Villa’s dismal league form, with the club tasting defeat in each of his five top-flight appearances, his attacking contributions have at least been encouraging enough to suggest that he could prove a major factor in their bid to avoid the drop.
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Nevertheless, having been taken off after 58 minutes in Sherwood’s first game in charge against Stoke, the former Spain Under-21 international was left on the bench for the weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United, sparking rumours that he might be dealing with a knock.
In fact, Sherwood has stressed that Gil is 100 per cent fit ahead of the visit of West Bromwich Albion but, like the rest of the squad, must fight for his spot in the line-up, telling reporters: "I preferred someone else [at the weekend]. It is up to Carles now to prove on the training ground that he warrants a place [in the team].
"Everyone is up for selection and everyone is going to get an opportunity to play between now and the end of the season.
He added: “If they’re not playing and they want to know why, they’ll get the same answer: ‘Because I prefer someone else to you today’. It’s a wasted knock on the door really, they know what they’re going to get.
"I cuddle them sometimes, I can’t wait to love them and I’ll hate them at the right times also. It’s the way I’m going to do it. I die on the sword.”
Considering the obvious creative spark he has brought to the side since his signing, Sherwood might well be shooting himself in the foot when it comes to his approach to Gil.
At just 22, there are bound to be a few teething problems in his first half-season, as was the case in the Stoke loss, but, with Villa struggling so much in the final third to create chances for Christian Benteke, it seems foolish to leave out the one option who has shown himself to be a real difference-maker – albeit from a small sample size.
For all we know, Gil could well be back in the side for the West Brom clash but, if the team were to suffer an eighth-straight league defeat to their West Midlands rivals in his potential absence, then Sherwood would have a lot to answer for.