Aston Villa’s fairly strong depth and the faith that Dean Smith has in his starting eleven has one unfortunate side-effect - that a number of promising youngster or highly-paid players have to seek first team football elsewhere - on loan. And while these players aren’t exactly ‘forgotten’ - their absence from Villa’s footballing endeavours lends reality to that old saying; out of sight, out of mind. With that, let’s check out how some of Villa’s loanees got on. Oh, and a caveat, we’ll be focusing on loanees who departed Villa in January.
Guilbert is a bit of a wildcard here - but certainly, he was an Aston Villa loan player. Guilbert joined Aston Villa in Janaury from Stade Malherbe Caen - and rejoined his former club on loan for the rest of the season. Playing in central defence, right-back, left-back and on the wing, the Frenchman has endured a tough season as Caen battle relegation, but the season isn’t over yet. Currently occupying 18th position, Caen can avoid the drop by winning a relegation play-off and furthermore can totally avoid any question of relegation if results in the final round of fixtures go their way. 3 unanswered points and Caen will be saved for another season of Ligue 1 football and Guilbert will leave a hero. He’s been a stand-out.
Jake Doyle-Hayes & Rushian Hepburn-Murphy
Former Villa coach Colin Calderwood came calling in January to acquire the temporary transfers of both Jake Doyle-Hayes and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy from the Villa to Cambridge United. The pair helped the club avoid the drop out of the English Football League, with the latter enjoying more impact than the former. Both players endured injuries, and while Hepburn-Murphy found his feet and grabbed two goals, Doyle-Hayes’ time at Cambridge was almost entirely scuppered thanks to injury. Cambridge dodged relegation in the end - and aided in the development of at least one ‘young lion.’
Callum O’Hare helped Carlisle United to a mid-table finish in League Two, impressing all of the way. O’Hare was a constant feature for Carlisle and grabbed three goals and three assists in style along the way. The young Villan also bagged the League Two Player of the Month award for April and won the hearts of Carlisle fans - proving many doubters who believed that his playstyle would not translate to the ‘gritty reality’ of League Two, wrong.
James Bree probably had a role to play at Aston Villa this season, but no room was found for him at right-back. Thankfully, Ipswich Town were able to give him some match minutes as Bree played in fourteen games for Paul Lambert’s side who were pretty much helpless in avoiding relegation from the Championship. Bree was a steady performer in a largely disappointing team and will likely need another loan move very soon due to incoming competition in the form of the aforementioned Guilbert.
Hogan likely enjoyed his time at Sheffield United under Chris Wilder a lot more than his time at Aston Villa. A rotation option for The Blades rather than a non-option at the Villa, Hogan saw his side promoted to the Premier League after originally being denied a loan move and then being abandoned by former Villa boss Steve Bruce. With Hogan’s confidence shot, Dean Smith could find little use for him and thus the hitman was shipped out to Sheffield United. Two goals were scored by Hogan as Wilder’s men grabbed the second promotion spot in the Championship and Hogan will surely be grateful for those goals, and the minutes afforded to him in a busy team by Wilder. It’s likely that a deal will be done in the summer, if Sheffield United can resolve their boardroom tension.