Ashley Westwood backs Aston Villa teammate Carles Gil in bid for first-team return

The creative midfielder has been linked with a move back to Spain this summer after becoming a peripheral figure under Tim Sherwood.

While Carles Gil’s Aston Villa future has been in doubt this summer after a dismal end to last season, Ashley Westwood is backing his Spanish teammate to force his way back into manager Tim Sherwood’s plans.

Speaking to AVTV after Villa opened their pre-season in Portugal with a 3-1 defeat to Fulham, in which Gil started and impressed during a 45-minute run-out, Westwood said: “Technically, he’s phenomenal. He’s a real Spanish player – the ball sticks to him like glue.

“Hopefully we can get the best out of him now. All the lads are together and we want to build a good group.

“The gaffer wants that too and, if we all stick together, it could be a good season.”

 2014-15 Premier League PositionTeamGoalsAssistsTotal Key PassesPassing AccuracyTotal CrossesCrossing AccuracyTotal DribblesDribble SuccessAppearancesMins Played
Carles Gil MF Aston Villa 0 1 6 89% 33 15% 26 69% 5 359

Gil, 22, was billed as the elusive No. 10 Villa had been lacking after arriving from Valencia in the winter transfer window for around £3.2 million, before making a great first impression with a stunning full debut goal in the 2-1 FA Cup fourth round win over Bournemouth.

The Spanish midfielder would continue to look the part in his first four league starts before Paul Lambert’s sacking, but the subsequent appointment of Sherwood as manager soon resulted in a stark downturn in fortunes.

Hauled off 58 minutes into his first match in charge against Stoke, the former Under-21 international went on to earn just a one-minute cup cameo over the remaining 15 games of the campaign, as rumours of falling-out with the Villa boss cast doubts over his long-term future at the club.

"I’m still looking at him like everyone else,” Sherwood told the Birmingham Mail in May when asked about Gil’s future. “Carles is not alone. There’s probably four or five that have been left out of the squad at the moment.

“I think we’ve got the most numbers that we’ve ever had in training. It’s good news.”

Since linked with a return to Spain, the likes of Celta de Vigo, Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Villarreal have all been named as potential suitors [h/t Estadio Deportivo], but Gil’s recent pre-season involvement would suggest that Sherwood is prepared to hand him a second chance.

That would come as welcome news to most Villa fans, who have been left baffled at the former Valencia playmaker's lack of opportunities under the new regime, but the rest of pre-season will likely prove crucial towards deciding his ultimate fate.

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