Are Aston Villa making a mistake in allowing Mitch Clark to leave the club?

Dean Smith head coach of Aston Villa in action during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Aston Villa at Elland Road on April 28, 2019 in Leeds, England.

A number of Aston Villa's academy products have announced that they will be leaving the club in the summer.

John-Joe O'Toole of Northampton Town contests the ball with Mitchell Clark of Port Vale during the Sky Bet League Two match between Northampton Town and Port Vale at PTS Academy Stadium on...

It has been a case of one after the other at Aston Villa during this past week. A number of the club's academy products have come out and informed the supporters that they will be leaving the club in the summer. Some departures are understandable, whilst others have raised eyebrows.  

One name that took the Villa Park faithful by surprise was the decision to allow defender Mitchell Clark to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The 20-year-old announced on his personal Twitter account last Friday that after 12 years of service to the Midland giants, his time is 'finally up'. 

 

In previous years gone by, Villa haven't had a good record in parting ways with their academy players - just ask Champions League & Premier League winner Gary Cahill, as well as Premier League winner Marc Albrighton. 

Following Villa's play-off final defeat to Fulham last May, the club was at a crossroads and heading into oblivion. The one saving grace the supporters could look towards was their academy players and building for the future. 

Along with Callum O'Hare, left-back Clark was a name hotly-tipped to break into the first-team set-up. He was part of Villa's pre-season tours and produced respectable displays. But that belief in giving players like him a chance didn't materialise. 

As a result, he joined League Two outfit Port Vale on a season-long loan where he has produced a number of eye-catching displays but has also blown hot and cold, at times. 

Gary Cahill of Chelsea applauds the fans after the final whistle during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Watford FC at Stamford Bridge on May 05, 2019 in London, United...

Nonetheless, the promise was there from Clark and given Villa's left-back problems at the start of the season, many were calling for the youngster to be given a chance. 

Wales international Neil Taylor was the only bonafide left-sided fullback at the club, but he couldn't get into the starting XI because of form, with right-back Alan Hutton taking his place. 

Those in charge at the time opted against bringing in another left-back, which only increased talk that the versatile Clark should be given a chance. 

There is no doubt that Clark's strengths are going forward and being that driving force in the final third whilst attacking from his defensive position. 

But given his age, the fact that he hasn't been provided with a proper opportunity and Villa's previous history with allowing certain academy players go, the club may just regret this one down the line. 

Mitchell Clark of Aston Villa during the Pre-season friendly between AFC Telford United and Aston Villa at New Bucks Head Stadium on July 14, 2018 in Telford, England.

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