Enda Stevens bouncing back at Sheffield United after Aston Villa release

Villa manager Steve Bruce reacts after a near miss during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on September 12, 2017 in Birmingham, England.

Aston Villa let Enda Stevens leave for Portsmouth in 2015 - but now he's starring at the top of the Championship with Sheffield United.

Villa manager Steve Bruce reacts after a near miss during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on September 12, 2017 in Birmingham, England.

Neil Taylor’s reckless challenge in the latter stages of their 1-0 win against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday has left Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce with something of a selection headache.

After loaning Jordan Amavi to Marseille in the summer, Welsh international Taylor is now the only senior left-back at Villa’s disposal and his three-match ban following that straight red card means Bruce is short of options for the weeks ahead.

It doesn’t help, then, that a left-back released by Aston Villa just two years ago is now earning rave reviews for his performances in the Championship.

Defender Enda Stevens of Aston Villa controls the ball against the Houston Dynamo during the BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup between Aston Villa and the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass...

Enda Stevens was plucked from Irish side Shamrock Rovers in 2012 as a potential star of the future but managed just seven league appearances in just three years at Villa. Therefore, when joining League Two Portsmouth for nothing in 2015, it appeared a surefire sign that Stevens would never make it at the top level.

With his current Sheffield United side sitting pretty in third, four places ahead of Villa, it’s fair to say the 27-year-old has bounced back in style.

Best in the league?

Signing for The Blades this summer after helping Portsmouth earn promotion to League One, Stevens has assisted four goals in 10 Championship starts, starring in hugely impressive victories over Derby, Wolves and Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

He was even the best player on the park in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest too, putting John Lundstram’s opener on a plate via a perfectly delivered cross.

Enda Stevens of Sheffield United controls the ball during the pre season friendly match between Sheffield United and Stoke City at Bramall Lane on July 25, 2017 in Sheffield, England.

Stevens has been arguably the best left-back in the Championship over the last month and it is clear to see now why Villa once rated the former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international so highly.

And, with Taylor suspended, Bruce may be wishing they had kept him around.

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