Aston Villa's Leandro Bacuna discusses his return to the wing against Sunderland

The 24-year-old Dutchman moved from right-back to the flank for Saturday's 2-2 draw at Villa Park.

Aston Villa utility man Leandro Bacuna has admitted that his return to the wing for Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Sunderland produced mixed results.

Bacuna, 24, was speaking to AVTV following the match at Villa Park, having started on the right flank for the first time this season after featuring at right-back in the opening three Premier League fixtures.

With Alan Hutton assuming his old role, the versatile Dutchman made a decent start to the game but struggled to deliver the final ball as proceedings wore on and was later taken off for Carles Gil in the 68th-minute as the hosts pushed for a winner.

The former Under-21 international was nevertheless pleased to get a run-out further up the pitch but acknowledges that his level of performance after the break was not where it needed to to be.

“Scotty [Scott Sinclair] and I had the freedom to play from the sides and cut inside to try to cause them problems in the midfield,” said Bacuna. “I think, if you saw the first-half, we did a great job getting free in the midfield and going forward, but we didn’t start the second-half as well.

“It’s a bit frustrating for us as a team and for the fans as well, but we still need to keep going. We’ve got a big break now and afterwards we’ll go out there and try to win some games.”

 Vs Sunderland Total ShotsShots OntargetTotal PassesPassing AccuracyTotal CrossesAccurate CrossesTotal DribblesSuccessful DribblesMins Played
Leandro Bacuna 3 1 32 91% 4 3 1 0 68

Bacuna first joined Villa from FC Groningen in June 2013 for around £1.5 million after impressing on the wing for the Eredivisie outfit, but his first season in the Midlands saw former manager Paul Lambert start experimenting with him at right-back.

The converted wide man fell out of favour over the first half of last term, however, and later admitted that he was considering his future at the club until Tim Sherwood’s arrival led to a change in fortunes.

Taking advantage of Hutton’s suspension to seize a spot in the line-up, the ex-Groningen man went on to start 11 of the final 13 games of the campaign, while recording five assists to help save the team from the drop.

Since awarded with a new contract until 2020, Sherwood has suggested that his switch to the backline could become permanent down the road but, for the moment, Bacuna himself is just pleased to have been given a chance to show his worth.

“I’m really pleased. I’m really happy at Villa,” he added to AVTV after the Sunderland clash. “We have a great squad and a great manager and, personally, I want to start becoming more important to the team.

“It’s given me a lot of confidence and, if you’ve got that, it’s going to be easy from there. You can start doing more things, like getting forward with the freedom I had today, so it’s been really important.”

Nevertheless, after an indifferent start to this season, the debate still rages on over Bacuna’s best role in line-up.

While his attacking impact from the back has been a welcome addition to the side, his defensive positioning still leaves a lot to be desired when compared to Hutton, who put in an impressive shift against the Black Cats in his first league start of the campaign.

A regular starting spot on the wing will also be hard to nail down with Jack Grealish, Scott Sinclair, Adama Traore and Carles Gil all providing strong competition for minutes, leaving him in danger of becoming a man stuck between positions.

The Dutchman is certainly a useful squad player thanks to his versatility but, while he has a lot of development ahead of him, most of the claret and blue faithful would agree that he is still to prove he deserves to start week in, week out.

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