Aston Villa boss Remi Garde's praise of Ciaran Clark looks like bad news for Joleon Lescott

The 33-year-old centre-back has failed to impress since his deadline day arrival from Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion.

Joleon Lescott looks set for an extended spell on the Aston Villa bench unless Remi Garde sees him as an option to step in at left-back for the injured Jordan Amavi, as the new manager’s recent comments to the Daily Mail suggest that Ciaran Clark will be his preferred centre-half partner for Micah Richards moving forward.

A boyhood Villa fan, Lescott joined the club from West Bromwich Albion on deadline day for a reported £1 million fee, which could rise to £2 million with add-ons, and slotted straight into the now departed Tim Sherwood’s side over Clark.

The 33-year-old has since made eight starts for the claret and blues but has struggled considerably amid their worst-ever start to a top-flight campaign, leading fans to call for him to be dropped for his fellow left-sided centre-back.

 2015-16 Premier League TeamGoals Conceded GAMETotal Tackles GAMETackle AccuracyTotal Clearances GAMEHeaders Won GAMEHeader SuccessInterceptions GAMEPassing AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Joleon Lescott Aston Villa / West Brom 1.89 1.11 90% 5.78 1.89 77.27% 2.56 79% 9 765
Ciaran Clark Aston Villa 1.33 1.5 67% 9.5 3.83 71.88% 2.67 76% 6 540

They duly got their wish for Garde’s first game in charge against Manchester City earlier this month, as Clark came into the line-up for the former England defender and helped the hosts keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with the Premier League leaders.

The result ended Villa’s seven-game losing streak in the league and the French manager was more than impressed with how the Republic of Ireland international performed alongside skipper Richards.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton after seeing Clark star in Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off win over Bosnia and Herzegovina this week, Garde told the Daily Mail: “Ciaran for me is a very good defender. He and Micah complement each other. I also saw it in training.

“He's young and very focused and I feel he is someone who has a way still to improve like many players in that position. But he has good qualities.

“In his mind now he knows he will be playing in Euros in France which is a huge thing for a player. I am very happy for that.

“He is now not wearing Ireland shirt anymore and has to bring his mind back quickly on Villa because we need everyone focused.”

While Clark endured a somewhat underwhelming start to this season before Lescott’s September arrival, the 26-year-old would have arguably won Villa’s player of the year award last term had the stellar form of both Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke during the run-in not pushed him down to third-place in the voting.

The academy graduate enjoyed an excellent 2014-15 until a knee injury cut his campaign short in April, and his most recent performances for both club and country suggest that his performances were no fluke.

Lescott, meanwhile, helped West Brom record a formidable 15 clean sheets last season - a number which was only bettered by Chelsea trio John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Nemanja Matic, but he has shown few signs of that form during his first few months at Villa Park.

With Amavi ruled out for the rest of the term with a ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee, the former City man could potentially see some playing time at left-back until at least the January transfer window opens, but with Kieran Richardson the Frenchman's likelier replacement, he might just have to settle for a spot on the bench for the time being.

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