Report: Aston Villa set to send Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori back to Anfield

The 22-year-old defender has not seen any first-team action since joining Villa on deadline day on a season-long loan and now looks set to have his spell cut short this month.

Aston Villa are ready to send Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori back to Anfield early, according to the Telegraph.

Villa reportedly paid a £1 million fee to sign Ilori on deadline day on a season-long loan, with the option of making the deal permanent for around £6 million in the summer, but the Liverpool-owned defender has so far failed to make a single senior appearance for the club.

A troublesome groin injury has been partly to blame for his lack of playing time, but even after returning to full training at the start of December, the former Portugal Under-21 international has made the first-team bench just once in the 1-1 draw at Southampton.

The 22-year-old centre-back can reportedly be recalled by Liverpool in January and the Telegraph claims that Villa are eager to cut his spell short in order to free up a loan space for new signings in the winter transfer window.

Speaking about Ilori’s lack of action last month, manager Remi Garde told the club’s official website: "Regarding Tiago, he's a player who has struggled a lot in previous weeks with many light injuries. He didn't have a full week of training for the moment.

"Of course, he was on the bench in the [Southampton] game. But he needs to improve again his fitness to be a serious contender.

"I wouldn't say he is far away. I am happy the way he is coming back to his full fitness. But probably he needs to do a little bit more before games."

Ilori, who was born in London to an English father and Portuguese mother, joined Liverpool from Sporting Club de Portugal in September 2013 for around £7 million but has still not made his competitive debut for the club, having been loaned out to Granada and Bordeaux in successive seasons.

Nevertheless, the youngster remains highly-rated on Merseyside and plenty of Red supporters voiced their displeasure with the decision to let him join Villa at the time.

With the ability to play anywhere across the backline or as a holding midfielder, it is slightly concerning that he has not been able to break into Garde’s plans given the team’s defensive struggles, but the versatile stopper has managed to impress for the Under-21s in the meantime.

After seeing him play 90 minutes at centre-back in a 2-1 win over Derby County last month, Villa Under-21 boss Gordon Cowans told AVTV on Ilori: “I thought he won a lot of the aerial challenges. He broke the game down pretty well. He’s very athletic with his pace and he’s very composed on the ball.

“I thought he looked the part tonight, but it’s obviously very different playing an Under-21 game compared to a Premier League game.”

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