Noel Whelan believes that midfielder Conor Hourihane will become a regular feature in Aston Villa’s starting line-up after the international break.
The Republic of Ireland international impressed against Norwich City on Saturday, scoring his first Premier League goal as the Villans hammered their opponents 5-1 at Carrow Road.
It was only Hourihane’s third league start of the campaign but he certainly made an impact on the game and gave Dean Smith food for thought going forward.
According to Whelan, it will be tough to leave the midfielder out of the team in the foreseeable future and he has backed the player to be in the starting 11 on a more regular basis.
In an interview with Football Insider, the former striker said: “Hourihane will be given a run in the starting XI after that, absolutely. I can’t see Dean Smith taking him out after that performance, he’ll be in for a long time.
“He was absolutely breath taking – the best of a very impressive bunch. Hourihane was everywhere – creating chances, winning a penalty, scoring a great goal himself.
“His energy, creativity and work rate was immense, he was absolutely brilliant.”
Whelan definitely has a point and Hourihane could very well continue in the Villa starting 11 when the Premier League resumes following the international break.
His performance against Norwich certainly warrants a place in the team. Indeed as well as getting on the scoresheet the former Barnsley man also provided an assist, played three key passes, made two clearances and one successful tackle in the match, giving him an overall rating of 8.77 (via WhoScored).
It would, therefore, be difficult for Smith to drop him, although the man he replaced in the starting line-up, Douglas Luiz, also scored against the Canaries from the bench.
Competition for places in the Villa midfield is certainly healthy, with Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Marvelous Nakamba having also done well so far in the engine room. But after his latest performance, perhaps the shirt is now Hourihane’s to lose.
Should Jack Grealish be in the England squad?
Aston Villa fans, should Conor Hourihane be in your starting line-up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
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