The stat that shows Leandro Bacuna should remain in the Aston Villa line-up

The versatile Dutchman's key pass numbers suggest he has to keep his place in Tim Sherwood's starting XI for Saturday's visit of Swansea City.

With Leandro Bacuna putting in a starring performance in the weekend’s 4-0 win at Sunderland, Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood now has somewhat of a selection dilemma ahead of him.

Making his second consecutive start at right-back for the suspended Alan Hutton, Bacuna assisted both of Christian Benteke’s goals and created three further chances on the afternoon to make his case for a regular role in the side.

  AssistsTotal Key PassesTotal DribblesSuccessful DribblesTotal TacklesTotal ClearancesDuels WonDuel SuccessMins Played
Leandro Bacuna 2 3 4 3 3 3 8 47.06% 90

That’s something which has eluded the Dutchman so far this season, with the since-departed Paul Lambert restricting him to just seven Premier League outings for a total of 184 minutes, despite a promising debut campaign which saw him score five times in 38 total appearances following a £3 million move from FC Groningen.

Even in limited action this term, though, Bacuna has still been able to showcase his worth and his key pass statistics make Lambert’s decision to push him out of the first-team picture look all the more bizarre.

  AssistsTotal Key PassesTotal Key Passes MINSAppearancesMins Played
Leandro Bacuna 2 8 36.13 10 289
Joe Cole 0 5 45 8 225
Jack Grealish 0 5 48.2 10 241
Ashley Westwood 1 32 53.66 21 1,717
Carles Gil 1 6 59.83 5 359
Fabian Delph 1 22 73.82 19 1,624
Charles N'Zogbia 2 13 74 19 962

In fact, when it comes to key passes per minute, Bacuna's numbers are the best in the Villa squad at a canter, even surpassing those of creative number 10s like Joe Cole, Carles Gil and Charles N'Zogbia.

Nevertheless, with Hutton available to reclaim the right-back spot against Swansea following his ban, it remains to be seen how Sherwood will look to keep the former Netherlands Under-21 international in his plans moving forward.

Given his form prior to picking up his 10th booking of the season, Hutton himself deserves come back into the side, leaving a question mark over where his versatile teammate fits.

Bacuna has often looked more comfortable in a midfield role, suggesting a start on the flank could be an option, although revived duo Scott Sinclair and N'Zogbia have both been central figures in the side's run of three straight wins.

That said, with the latter still to last 90 minutes since his return to the fold, one option could be to start Bacuna and N'Zogbia out wide before bringing on Sinclair for the Frenchman in a super sub role, which he has proved effective filling in the past.

Whatever the case, someone will have the right to feel aggrieved about being left out although, considering the struggles to field a competent starting XI over the first half of the season, Villa fans should see that as nothing but a huge positive.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch