Was Tim Sherwood too hasty in putting Joleon Lescott into Aston Villa's line-up?

Joleon Lescott v Ciaran Clark: Head to Head: 2015-16: 20150921

The 33-year-old centre-back has started over Ciaran Clark since his deadline day arrival from West Bromwich Albion.

Joleon Lescott v Ciaran Clark: Head to Head: 2015-16: 20150921

Joleon Lescott’s deadline day arrival from West Bromwich Albion was greeted by an extremely positive response from Aston Villa fans but, after his first two appearances for the cub, much of the excitement seems to have dissipated.

The 33-year-old defender’s displays in both the 3-2 loss at Leicester City and Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion left a lot to be desired overall and support for Ciaran Clark to be restored to the line-up has since been gathering steam.

There’s certainly good reason to believe that the academy graduate deserves to start over his new teammate, too, given his remarkable resurgence last season, when he went from fifth-choice centre-back at the start of the term to a regular starter from November onwards.

In fact, the 25-year-old looked like the favourite to win the club’s player of the year award heading into the run-in until being ruled out for the final seven games of the season with medial ligament damage suffered in April’s 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur.

He still managed to finish in third-place behind Fabian Delph and Christan Benteke with 18 per cent of the votes, though, and, after recovering in time for the start of pre-season, there were high expectations for the Republic of Ireland international going into the new campaign.

Nevertheless, while his performances over the first four Premier League games were far from disastrous, they clearly weren’t quite impressive enough to stop Tim Sherwood bringing in the vastly experienced Lescott for £2 million before the transfer deadline.

  TeamTotal Tackles GAMETackle AccuracyTotal Clearances GAMEHeaders Won GAMEHeader SuccessInterceptions GAMEPassing AccuracyBall Recoveries GAMEAppearancesMins Played
Joleon Lescott Aston Villa 2.5 80% 7 3 75% 2 79% 5 2 180
Ciaran Clark Aston Villa 1.5 67% 9.25 5 77% 3.5 78% 4.25 4 360

The boyhood Villa fan has since been put straight into the line-up alongside ex-Manchester City teammate and captain Micah Richards in the heart of the defence but, after an indifferent start, how long he will keep his place remains to be seen.

While he was solid for the first 70 minutes against Leicester, the ex-England international's lack of pace was all too apparent amid Villa losing their two-goal lead in the closing stages, before the weekend’s clash with his former club saw him play Saido Berahino onside for the first-half winner and struggle to deal with Salomon Rondon’s strength throughout.

Despite all that, though, his stats over the past two games compared to Clark’s this season show that there isn’t in fact a lot to choose between the pair.

Per game, Lescott has actually made more tackles with better accuracy than his fellow left-sided stopper, while also recording more recoveries.

Cark still has the lead when it comes to interceptions, clearances and success in the air, but the former Baggie could bridge the gap once he becomes more comfortable in his new surroundings and gets more game time under his belt.

Ultimately, Lescott clearly still has a lot to offer the Premier League both in terms of ability and experience but, given his age and increasing struggles with pace, Sherwood might well need to pick and choose his matchups going forward.

When you have somebody of Clark's quality as an alternative, though, that likely shouldn't be a big problem and, if the summer signing struggles to find his form at Villa Park, then the club are still well covered at the position thanks to the presence of Jores Okore and promising Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori.

At this early stage, there is certainly a good argument to make that Clark was dropped too hastily but, with the option to also go with three at the back now, it is not out of the question that we could see both starting in the same XI in the future either.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch