Aston Villa utility man Leandro Bacuna relishing midfield role

The versatile Dutchman has started the past two games on the right wing after filling in at left-back over the previous five matches.

Aston Villa utility man Leandro Bacuna has told AVTV that he is relishing the opportunity to establish himself on the wing in Remi Garde’s side after moving around the line-up over the first half of the season.

Bacuna, 24, joined Villa from FC Groningen in June 2013 for an undisclosed fee after impressing in midfield for the Eredivisie side, but his first campaign in the Midlands saw former boss Paul Lambert often utilise him at right-back.

The ex-Netherlands Under-21 international also started 11 of the final 13 games of last term on the right-hand side of defence over Alan Hutton, recording five assists in the process to help the since-departed Tim Sherwood’s side escape the drop.

Sherwood even suggested that his switch to the backline could become permanent after rewarding him with a new long-term deal in August, but the versatile Dutchman has instead been used in various different positions through the first half of this season.

However, after starting all five of Villa’s December fixtures at left-back in place of the injured Jordan Amavi and ineffective Kieran Richardson, the converted wide featured on the wing for the first time under Garde in the recent 3-1 defeat at Sunderland and stood out as one of the visitors’ few bright spots.

He subsequently kept his place for Saturday’s 1-1 FA Cup third round draw at Wycombe Wanderers, and while his performance was not as impressive, he is keen to get more opportunities to show his manager what he can do in a more advanced role.

“I think it’s a good position for me,” Bacuna told AVTV. “It’s one I like to play, and I’m doing the best I can for the team and myself. You just need to keep going and try to do the best you can do for the new manager. That’s the most important thing.

“Personally, it’s a good thing, but we also have to look at results at the moment. We just need to get some wins. That’s the most important thing for the team, our confidence and the club.”

With Hutton picking up a hamstring problem against Sunderland, Bacuna is now an option to return to right-back during the Scot’s absence, but Garde instead seems more eager to see how skipper Micah Richards gets on at the position.

The former Manchester City man started on the right-hand side of defence against Wycombe, when he opened the scoring in the first half with a low drive, and he should reprise his role for tomorrow night’s visit of Crystal Palace providing he can shake off an ankle injury suffered on the weekend.

He had previously been playing exclusively at centre-half since joining Villa on a free transfer last July after claiming that it was his natural position, but Bacuna believes moving the former England international back to the role where he has spent most of his career could prove a wise decision.

“If you saw him playing at Manchester City before, you’ll know he did a really good job there,” he said on Richards. “It’s something he’s done before so it’s nothing new for him. He can suit the positon.

"He has all the attributes to play there - he is quick, strong, likes to get forward but also defends strongly too.”

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