Which Aston Villa loanees have a future under Tim Sherwood?

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

A look at what the future holds for the club's loanees with a new boss now in place.

With Tim Sherwood taking over from the departed Paul Lambert at Aston Villa last month, here's a look at what the future might hold for the various members of the squad out on loan.

Joe Bennett (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Signed from Middlesbrough in August 2012 for £2.75 million, Bennett was a regular starter in his first season at Villa Park, but made just six appearances during the 2013-14 campaign after losing his place in the line-up to newcomer Antonio Luna and then-Chelsea loanee Ryan Bertrand, respectively.

With the since-departed Paul Lambert adding both Aly Cissokho and Kieran Richardson in the summer, the left-back found himself shipped off to Brighton on a season-long loan in August, where he has since started all but two Championship games.

A permanent move to the Amex Stadium was discussed this winter but, with Sherwood’s arrival since giving him the chance of a fresh start in the West Midlands, the defender is keeping his options open until he gets a chance to the hold talks with the new boss

Nevertheless, it’s debatable whether he has shown enough during his Championship stint to suggest he can turn his Villa career around, even with right-back Matthew Lowton deputising in his old spot at present.

Verdict: Likely gone

Darren Bent (Derby County)

Having endured a tumultuous time during Lambert’s reign, Bent has since shown with the Rams that he still possesses some of his old goalscoring instincts, scoring seven times in his first eight games for the club.

Having been with Sherwood at Tottenham for a brief period before heading off to Sunderland, there might be some grounds to suggest that he could still have a future at Villa Park but, with his contract up in the summer, it seems likelier that he’ll be eager for a fresh start elsewhere.

Verdict: Gone

Janoi Donacien (Tranmere Rovers)

Donacien often gets overlooked among Villa's top prospects but that's not to say he couldn't have a future at the club.

Having spent most of the season at Tranmere Rovers, the 21-year-old will have the likes of Ciaran Clark, Jores Okore, Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker ahead of him in the pecking order when he returns but, with skipper Ron Vlaar likely to leave and time on his side, it would make sense for Sherwood to give him some time to make an impression.

Verdict: Staying

Gary Gardner (Nottingham Forest)

Long-considered one of Villa’s most promising talents, a couple of serious ligament injuries have derailed Gardner’s career in the West Midlands but things now look to be heading in the right direction again.

After a five-month spell at Brighton and his stint at Forest, the former England Under-21 international is beginning to fulfil his potential in a deeper midfield role for Dougie Freedman’s side, and has even claimed consecutive Sky Sports News HQ’s goal of the day awards with two wonder strikes against Reading and Middlesbrough, respectively.

The Daily Mail claim that Forest are now keen to sign him on a permanent deal in the summer when their transfer embargo is lifted but, given his clear promise, Sherwood’s faith in youth and Tom Cleverley’s potential departure, it seems a good bet that he’ll be back at Villa Park.

Verdict: Staying

Nicklas Helenius (Aalborg BK)

Helenius sealed a £1.2 million move to Villa from childhood club Aalborg in June 2013 after netting 16 times in 33 Danish Superliga games during the 2012-13 season, but would go on to feature just six times over the course of the campaign for a total of 153 minutes, scoring once in the shock 2-1 FA Cup defeat to League One side Sheffield United.

Deemed surplus to requirements in the summer before returning to his former side on a season-long loan, the towering striker revealed to tv3Sport in September that he had contracted a bacterial infection during his time at Villa Park which left him in endless pain, addicted to sleeping pills, depressed and fearing death.

It’s taken him a while to get back up to full speed, having struggled to hold down a regular starting spot and scored just seven times in 34 total appearances, but the Denmark international told BT last month that it wasn’t until this winter that he felt 100 per cent again.

At just 23 and with his contract running until 2016, he could be an interesting reclamation project for Sherwood, but the towering front man himself has admitted that he can’t see himself returning to England.

Verdict: Gone

Antonio Luna (Spezia Calcio)

Luna joined Villa from Sevilla in June 2013 for around £1.5 million and started life in the West Midlands with a bang, netting on his Premier League debut in a shock 3-1 win at Arsenal.

The Spaniard would go on to make 17 further appearances for the club, but suddenly found himself dropped from the squad in mid-January, and failed to feature again for the rest of the campaign.

He was sent out on a season-long loan to Verona in the summer but didn’t see a single minute of action, before switching his spell to Serie B side Spezia during the transfer window.

His fortunes have since improved a division down, having made three starts, but his struggles over the first half of the season aren’t too encouraging for his chances of reigniting his Villa career moving forward.

Verdict: Likely gone

Callum Robinson (Preston North End)

This one seems a no-brainer. After a earning a handful of Premier League cameos toward the end of last season, Robinson joined Preston North End in September on a month-long loan, where he made enough of an impression to have his deal extended into the New Year.

Five goals in 11 appearances saw him recalled in November, however, after Darren Bent’s switch Brighton opened up a first-team spot, but the promising striker would fail to see a single minute of senior action in the months following.

It was a puzzling move from Lambert but, having since headed back to Deepdale, he has continued to demonstrate his obvious Villa credentials, scoring in the weekend’s 2-0 win at MK Dons to keep the League One side’s promotion push on track.

Next season still might be too soon for a full-time introduction to top-flight football but a bright claret and blue future no doubt awaits.

Verdict: Definitely Staying

Enda Stevens (Doncaster Rovers)

Former manager Alex McLeish signed Stevens from Shamrock Rovers in 2011, but he’s never looked close to becoming a regular contributor since, having earned just nine first-team appearances.

However, after previous loan spells at Notts County and Northampton Town, the Irishman looks to have found a home with League One side Doncaster and, with his Villa contract expiring in the summer, has made it known that he’d like to stick around the Keepmoat Stadium for the long-term.

Verdict: Gone

Yacouba Sylla (Kayseri Erciyesspor)

Sylla first joined Villa from French second division side Clermont Foot in January 2013 for around £2 million, showing enough during his first few months in the Midlands for some to hail him as the team’s long-term answer in the holding role.

The Mali international’s first full campaign at Villa Park did not go at all to plan, however, as he made just 11 league appearances in a side battling against relegation, while failing to get off the bench for the final two months of the season.

While shipped out to Turkish Super Lig club Kayseri Erciyesspor in the summer, he has impressed enough during his time on the other side of Europe, as well as at the recent African Cup of Nations, to suggest that he might be worth another look.

That said, with counterpart Carlos Sanchez sitting on the Villa Park bench at the moment, it’s difficult to see where he fits in the squad.

Verdict: Likely gone

Aleksandar Tonev (Celtic)

A seven-match ban for racially abusing Aberdeen defender Shay Logan has overshadowed Tonev’s time with the Scottish champions but, even when available, the Bulgarian winger has struggled to earn first-team recognition, failing to make the squad for the past five league matches.

Considering he couldn’t offer much during his debut season at Villa upon arriving from CSKA Sofia in June 2013, there’s little reason to think that the 25-year-old will be able to convince Sherwood of his worth.

Verdict: Gone

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch