Carles Gil: The hero Aston Villa deserve, but not the one they need right now

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

After making a bright start to his Villa career, the Spanish midfielder has become a relative outsider under new boss Tim Sherwood.

Amid Aston Villa’s Tim Sherwood-led revival, Carles Gil has gone from the club’s promised saviour to a relative afterthought.

Fans have been clamouring for the Spanish midfielder’s inclusion in recent weeks but, with the team now coming off two upset wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, it’s becoming increasingly hard to argue against Sherwood’s decision to keep him out of the side.

Gil’s current situation is in stark contrast to the fanfare which greeted his winter arrival from Valencia, when he was billed as the elusive number 10 former manager Paul Lambert’s side had been lacking for the past two-and-a-half seasons.

He looked the part in his first handful of appearances too, scoring a stunning full debut goal in the 2-1 FA Cup win over Bournemouth to suggest he was primed to fill a central role in Villa’s bid to avoid the drop.

With his introduction failing to spark an anticipated revival, though, as four subsequent league defeats led to Lambert’s sacking, the new boss has since had other ideas about how to get things clicking on the pitch.

After being hauled off 58 minutes into Sherwood’s first game in charge against Stoke, Gil hasn’t been back in the line-up since, as the likes of Jack Grealish, Charles N’Zogbia, Scott Sinclair and even Joe Cole have all moved ahead of him in the pecking order.

Some teething problems were to be expected in attempting to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League but, after going from five straight starts to just a one-minute cameo in the past 10 games, his ongoing plight has been somewhat alarming.

In his absence, meanwhile, hometown hero Grealish has emerged as Villa’s new white knight, stepping out of the shadows to take on the role Gil was earmarked for and earning rave reviews in the process.

The teenage attacker has been the talk of English football since stealing the show in the weekend’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Liverpool and, having been a season-ticket holder since the age of four, it’s not hard to understand how fans have taken to him with such adoration.

His emergence, though, leads one to wonder what the future holds for Gil, with there even being some reason to speculate whether his time at Villa could be coming to an end after just four months.

The Mirror reported last week that he is being frozen out because he is viewed as too lightweight and, while Sherwood has praised his application on the training ground, the manager’s comments about focusing on the collective rather than the individual make for ominous reading.

“I just pick a team that I think will win a match,” Sherwood told the Birmingham Mail when asked about Gil's lack of action before the recent 3-3 home draw with Queens Park Rangers, in which the former Valencia man failed to even make the bench.

“Had he done well before? I didn’t know. He might have been doing well personally but they’d lost seven on the spin.

“It’s all about Aston Villa, not one particular player, I like Carles - he trains really well but when I think it’s right for him to get an opportunity he’ll get it.

“That goes for everyone.”

 2014-15 Premier League GoalsAssistsTotal Key PassesKey Passes MINSPassing AccuracyTotal Crosses MINSCrossing AccuracyTotal Dribbles MINSDribble AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Jack Grealish 0 0 8 46.75 91% 20.78 44% 26.71 73.33% 12 374
Carles Gil 0 1 6 59.83 89% 10.88 15% 13.81 69.23% 5 359
Joe Cole 1 1 7 39.71 84% 17.38 25% 69.5 75% 11 278
Charles N'Zogbia 0 2 14 78.57 79% 36.67 23% 24.44 30.61% 22 1,100
Scott Sinclair 1 0 2 219 79% 73 0% 48.67 33.33% 9 438

Aged just 22, Gil still has a great deal of development ahead him and, after the promising start he made to life in England, supporters should hope that this isn’t the beginning of the end for him.

While there appears to be little chance or even need for the former Under-21 international to come back into the fold during the final month of the season, given the team’s current form, it would be a huge shame if he wasn’t afforded the chance to return next season to fight for his place.

Considering Sherwood’s penchant for attacking football, the pair should be a good fit for one another on paper and, given due time, the diminutive Spaniard could just end up becoming the game-changing star fans thought they were seeing the making of a few months back.

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