Earlier today I compiled an Aston Villa depth chart that got some discussion started on twitter. Dan Ward, who used to run Aston Villa Central and now uses that same site to keep helpful Villa pages, made a great point about Villa's current squad:
@UTVilla @7500toHolte @JamieCutteridge worth noting that we currently have 29 players 21+ y.o.; at least 2 more to join tonev & luna, then.— Dan Ward (@ThatDanWard) July 22, 2014
He also linked to one of his really helpful pages, which lists the current Villa squad as well as their homegrown and U21 status. Keep in mind, per Premier League regulations, each club must submit a 25-man roster that includes at least eight homegrown players. In addition to that squad, an unlimited number of U21 players are eligible for league play as well. That means the following players may be a part of Aston Villa's league squad no matter what happens:
Outside of the youth, there are a few players who strike me as absolute locks to make the final cut:
|Karim El Ahmadi||N||N|
I can't see any of these players being left out of the 25-man roster unless there is a drastic change. You'll notice that twelve of them are homegrown, so the club don't have to worry about that. This group of 21 players leaves four more slots left to be taken from among the following:
Obviously, one or both of Jed Steer and Shay Given will have to be selected. Last year, Steer qualified as a U21 player, so there was no need for a choice, but this year having all three keepers around will hamper squad depth elsewhere. Paul Lambert will have to decide if he wants to do that. We know that Shay Given would like playing time elsewhere, so if he can force a move it may be a moot point.
But for now, let's assume that Villa only select one keeper aside from Guzan. That means they've got three slots left and (currently) six players from which to choose. Johnson has made no appearances with Villa, so it seems likely that he'll be left off, and there have been rumblings of a move for Antonio Luna.
So what three players do Villa choose from Charles N'Zogbia, Chris Herd, Enda Stevens, and Aleksandar Tonev? We haven't seen N'Zogbia play in more than a year, but given his salary, I imagine he gets picked. After that, I'd probably opt for Herd and Tonev, but only because I've seen absolutely nothing from Stevens.
But, there is the fact that Tonev got left in England while the club are traveling in the United States, so that may be a sign that he isn't under consideration. If both he and Luna are shipped out, then the decision will be a bit more simple. Of course, any moves before the end of the window could change this calculus dramatically.
So, is this how you'd handle the situation? Do you disagree with some of my locks? Let us know in the comments!