Aston Villa could well be planning for the Premier League in the summer but seven players look likely to go even if they remain in the Championship.
It’s been a rollercoaster 12 months for Aston Villa fans, with last season’s painful Championship playoff defeat to Fulham triggering a summer of anxiety with the club’s future at stake which was luckily settled by Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens taking control of the club.
However, things on the pitch did not suddenly improve as they did off it, with Steve Bruce departing Villa Park in October with the club 12th in the table (BBC Sport) and despite Dean Smith’s arrival, they remained some distance from the playoffs as early back as a month ago.
Then things started to click into place, with January loan signings Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause forming an indomitable partnership at the back, returning duo Jed Steer and Andre Green also impressing, and Jack Grealish returning from injury, with the club now in the playoffs.
As a result, planning for next season is now not as clear-cut as it may have seemed earlier this season, in a good way of course, with 2019-20 still harbouring realistic chances of Premier League football.
In terms of goalkeepers, Mark Bunn appears the most likely to leave Villa whether in the Championship or top flight, given his contract is up at the end of the season and he has failed to make much of an impact since his 2015 arrival – just one league appearance this term, in fact (Transfermarkt).
Defence-wise, there are several players who look likely to depart with their contracts up – Micah Richards hasn’t played competitive football for years, while Alan Hutton and Tommy Elphick are the wrong side of 30, the latter also out injured, and may well be deemed surplus to requirements.
Further up the pitch, 35-year-old Glenn Whelan seems another likely candidate to leave despite his upturn in form, while Mile Jedinak is reported to have received offers from his native Australia and could thus switch to the A-League.
Scott Hogan, currently on loan at Sheffield United, has not been having the best time at Bramall Lane, with just three starts under his belt, but with Bristol City also rumoured to be in the hunt for him (Birmingham Mail), he could also find himself upping sticks in the summer.