Alan Hutton might have played his last game for Aston Villa.
The Scotland international has transformed from a high-earning flop into a genuine cult figure at Villa Park with his hard-working, combative performances earning him belated admiration from those wearing claret and blue.
A famous solo goal against Birmingham City didn’t hinder him either.
But, with less than three months left in the season, Hutton might never been seen in Villa colours again. He hobbled out of Saturday’s draw at Stoke with a potentially serious knee injury and the fact that his contract expires in the summer has not gone unnoticed.
While a player will never take joy in a teammate’s misfortune, James Bree should be fully aware that the door has just opened for him to make a point to Villa boss Dean Smith.
The young right-back was forced to join Ipswich on loan in January after failing to oust Hutton. And after a sluggish start, including a poor performance in the 3-0 Old Farm derby loss at Norwich, Bree has started to stand out for the Championship’s basement club.
While his crossing needs some work, the former Barnsley youngster has impressed with his work rate and defensive nous.
His next few weeks at Portman Road could be make-or-break for his Aston Villa career. Because, with Hutton’s future uncertain, you can imagine that the Midland giants will be keen to keep tabs on his form in East Anglia.