Is Wigan Loan setting up Albrighton’s last Villa chance?
It was during the preseason Peace Cup in the summer of 2009 when Marc Albrighton was seen terrorising the likes of Porto and Juventus, that many Aston Villa supporters thought the Tamworth-born Villa fan could be the real deal. Since, there’s been flashes of brilliance before injuries and a loss of form seemed to derail his progress. In the last year of his Villa contract and currently on loan to Wigan for 28 days – is Paul Lambert priming him for once last stab at saving his Villa career?
Albrighton started his introduction into the first team flying. Scoring his first Villa goal in a 3-1 win against Mexican side Atlante in the Peace Cup tournament. His frantic dribbling style and eye for goal was reminiscent of Tony Morley. Soon after, Albrighton made his professional league debut against Wigan for Villa in the opening game of the 2009/10 season, as a 68th minute substitute at Villa Park, in a game the Latics won 2-0.
Martin ‘O’Neil, despite blooding the young winger, was perhaps guilty of then not giving him more opportunities over the course of the season to gain experience. For some reason, O’Neill wasn’t over keen on making substitutes. Albrighton had to wait to the opening day of the following season to gain his first Villa start in the 3-0 win against West Ham; days after O’Neil walked out on the club.
The 2010/11 season under Gerard Houlier proved to be the best of Albrighton’s career so far, with six goals in 33 appearances. The following season he also notched the 20,000th Premier League goal against Arsenal at Villa Park, but then Albrighton’s progress was severely hampered by foot injuries and also stifling Villa tactics.
With Lambert now fully aware of which of the Villa academy products he inherited, he wants to keep, Albrighton has been a borderline case. Lambert has largely played without proper wingers during his term as Villa boss, but now perhaps the option of using one would be useful to add some diversity to his tactics. Charles N’Zogbia was earmarked for an exit in the summer until his injury put paid to that, leaving Albrighton as Villa’s main senior out-and-out winger. In a team that suffers from a lack of width, he still could provide a valuable option for the Villa team this season.
The 28-day loan to Wigan seems to be all about getting Albrighton match fit for Villa’s busy Christmas fixture schedule. But if Albrighton then doesn’t appear in a Villa shirt during this period, the loan will be seen as nothing more than a ‘try before you buy’ opportunity for the Wigan boss Owen Coyle, who has admitted to previous attempts at signing the player.
Drafted in by Coyle primarily as cover for the injured ex-Villan Shaun Maloney, Albrighton has only made a couple of substitution appearances for the Latics so far. The clock is ticking, but hopefully Albrighton will grab his final opportunity, find form and make an impact.
Villa could certainly do with the winger, if he shows the form we know he’s capable of. After all, it’s always nice having a Villa fan on the pitch delighting the Holte End.
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