Tim Sherwood discusses Jordan Ayew's chances of starting Aston Villa's clash with Liverpool

Aston Villa

An eye-catching substitute display in Tuesday night's derby win over Birmingham City has put the striker in contention to play a key role at Anfield.

Aston Villa striker Jordan Ayew is in contention to start Saturday’s clash with Liverpool after his mid-week showing, manager Tim Sherwood has said at his pre-match press conference.

The 24-year-old helped Villa beat bitter rivals Birmingham City 1-0 in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup third round tie with a game-changing performance off the bench, as he and fellow half-time substitute Jack Grealish opened up the opposition defence with their skill and movement in the final third.

After struggling for form in his first four appearances for the club since an £8.5 million summer move from Lorient, the French-born Ghanaian’s latest run-out served as an encouraging sign going forward and Sherwood believes we could now be witnessing the beginnings of a breakout for him.

Asked if Ayew and Grealish would start at Anfield after their impressive displays against the Blues, Sherwood said: “They're definitely in my thoughts but only 11 can play. You saw with Jordan Ayew the other night, he’s a player who’s introduced himself on the scene.

“Previous to that we hadn’t seen too much of him but we’re hoping that will give him the confidence now to grow. It only takes a performance like that for them to gain momentum and show their worth to this great football club.”

Ayew, the son of Ghana legend Abedi Pele, joined Villa in July after enjoying a breakout 2014-15 season at Lorient, in which he scored a career-high 12 times in 26 League 1 appearances.

One of four summer signings from the French top-flight along with Idrissa Gana, Jordan Amavi and Jordan Veretout, the former Marseille man is still to open his claret and blue account after five games but Sherwood stresses that it would be foolish to judge him after just a couple of months in the Midlands.

“They’ve all come here because they’re good players,” the Villa boss added. “We knew there was an element of risk when we brought in players who are still developing and have been playing in a foreign country. Some hit the floor running, some don’t.

“It takes longer for others. Idrissa Gana has been fantastic. The game can’t be quick enough for him.

“It’s the philosophy of the club and how we wanted to go – it’s not just Tim Sherwood’s choice, it’s the choice of the football club and how we wanted to bring in young players and help develop them into superstars.

“That’s our aim but with that comes an element of risk. We’re rolling the dice, we knew that, but everyone’s giving us the opportunity to be able to do that. That’s why you don’t see any panic with six games gone in the Premier League.

“There are still an awful lot of points and an awful lot of time for us to adapt, and that’s what we’re doing.

“It would have been easy for us to go out and buy some established, nailed-on players. I think the statistics show that one in three players are a success so that means, out of our 12, four of them might be a success, and I think we’ve had more than that.”

It’s worth noting that Ayew only managed 22 goals in 147 games during his five-year spell at Marseille before joining Lorient in the summer of 2014, although the World Cup veteran did make most of his appearances for his hometown club either off the bench or on the wing.

Whether he will prove a reliable finisher at Villa remains to be seen but, as he showed against Birmingham, there is a lot more to his game than just finding the back of the net.

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