A big congratulations to Barry Bannan on becoming the first Aston Villa player I've chosen to put in my pocket. At 5'7" and just 20 years old, with an extremely innocent countenance, Bannan is the epitome of a pocket player. He looks like someone needs to carry him around in order to protect him from the elements. Do you think he and Marc Albrighton room together and discuss whether or not there are monsters under their beds while they lay there wide-eyed in the dark?
(Also, have you ever noticed how Barry and Marc look almost exactly alike? It's creeeeeepy).
Bannan came up through the Villa Academy and actually had his first-team debut nearly two years ago, playing against Hamburg in the UEFA Cup group stages. After that, the Villa sent young Bannan out on loan, going first to Derby County for a month, then back to the Aston Villa reserves, and then on to Blackpool last November. Now, of course, he's back at Villa Park, and it appears Barry is going nowhere any time soon.
Villa supporters who pay attention to the reserves rightly assumed we'd be seeing more of Barry Bannon this season. With Kevin MacDonald in temporary charge of the club, suddenly the youngsters were being given more time. Bannan came on in the last minute of the season opener with West Ham (remember those glory days, Villa fans?), but his moment of magic was to come just five days later, in the away leg of the Europa League tie with Rapid Vienna. Bannan opened the scoring in the eleventh minute.
Bannan hasn't had a Premier League start yet, but that day could be quite soon. With Stiliyan Petrov out for three months, and Steve Sidwell needing an operation on his Achilles, and, you know, being utterly blah, Barry could end up seeing the pitch much more. His performance last Saturday in the derby certainly was sufficient to merit his inclusion over bad-ginger. When Bannan took the pitch, at least there was something fun to watch, which is more than could be said for the rest of the derby. Little dude took a shot from twenty yards and then attempted to climb up Tree Zigic.
I love it when Aston Villa can show off its bright young things. I hate it when those bright young things get stolen away by certain flashy clubs. Barry's going in the pocket to protect him from prying eyes, because goodness knows we don't want to lose even more central midfielders.