Five things learned from Aston Villa's win over Swindon: Featuring Amavi, Sellars

Aston Villa

Goals from Scott Sinclair and substitute Jerell Sellars saw Tim Sherwood's men beat the League One side 2-0 at the County Ground in their third pre-season encounter.

Carles Gil ready to take centre stage

With Christian Benteke set to follow Fabian Delph out the Villa Pak exit door, Sherwood will have to find a new focal point for his attack and, despite their past differences, Gil genuinely looks like he could be the man for the job.

Starting in a No. 10 role behind Gabby Agbonlahor, the Spanish playmaker once again stood out as Villa’s star man, linking the midfield with the attack, dictating tempo, buzzing around the pitch and even putting in a solid defensive shift when needed.

His lack of action last season under Sherwood remains no less bizarre but, with the Villa boss since stressing his desire to hand the former Valencia midfielder more minutes moving forward, there is good reason to expect big things this term.

The claret and blue faithful have already warmed to him after his initial performances for the club and they will no doubt be praying that the injury which forced him off early in the second-half against Swindon was nothing serious.

Jordan Amavi looks the real deal

Villa have been searching for a first-class left-back for some time now but, in Amavi, it looks like Sherwood might have just found his man.

Making his first appearance for the club since last week’s £10 million move from Nice, the France Under-21 international looked excellent going forward during his 78-minute run-out and delivered one tantalising cross in particular which would have been finished on another night.

He also impressed with his defensive work as the match wore on and, while there were a few moments when he proved a tad wasteful in possession, the talent that saw him labelled one of Ligue 1’s most exciting prospects was certainly clear for all to see.

Micah Richards: Villa captain?

Delph’s move to Manchester City means Villa will have a new captain by the time they line up against Bournemouth in next month’s Premier League opener and it looks like one of the candidates is a player who only arrived at the club earlier this month.

After Agbonlahor skippered the side in their first two pre-season fixtures, it was Richards’ turn to wear the armband on Tuesday night and the summer signing made a good case for taking on the role full-time.

Centre-back partner Ciaran Clark might still be the fans’ favourite for the job but, having stood out as the defence’s clear leader with his vocal marshalling, it is obvious why Sherwood sees the former England international as another potential contender.

Jerell Sellars takes his chance

Plenty of youngsters are getting the chance to impress under Sherwood this pre-season and, knowing that first-team opportunities are up for grabs, Sellars ensured he made an impact at the County Ground.

Replacing the injured Gil in the 54th-minute, the 19-year-old striker made a somewhat slow start to his senior bow but burst into life in the final 10 minutes, capitalising on a poor back pass to double the visitors’ lead.

He could have even had a second not long after but for a fine save from the Swindon keeper and continued to threaten during the closing stages, outperforming fellow front man Callum Robinson in the process.

With Sherwood’s fondness for giving homegrown talent a chance well-documented at this point, it might not be long before competitive minutes come his way.

Firepower desperately needed

Villa certainly have goalscoring potential in their squad but, as far somebody who can be relied on to step up after Benteke’s imminent departure, there is little doubt that they will have to be found in the transfer market.

Agbonlahor’s performance further reinforced that sentiment on Tuesday night, as the long-serving striker worked hard to try to make things happen up top but saw his poor finishing cost him time and time again.

Sherwood stated last week that he believes the former trainee can have his "best season yet" this term but, having failed to top 10 Premier League goals since 2009-10, it is hard to see that as anything but wishful thinking.

The likes of Gil, Scott Sinclair, Jack Grealish and the fit-again Libor Kozak could all emerge to take some of the pressure off him but, with none of those four having any semblance of a proven scoring record in the English top-flight, a new front man has to be at the top of Sherwood’s wishlist.

If a solid option is not found then fans should brace themselves for another testing campaign.

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