When called upon last season, Tommy Elphick showed every Villa fan why the club signed him from Bournemouth in the Summer of 2016. Brought in to be the spearhead of the revival and the captain of the new-look Villa side, Elphick’s first season didn’t go brilliantly well, with everyone at the club going through a transitional phase. He lost his spot in his first season to Nathan Baker, and last season to John Terry, before being sent out on loan to Reading in January where he didn’t feature too much due to injury, but now Villa are struggling financially, could he be a consistent starter and key figure for the upcoming season?
Tommy Elphick’s Experience Last Season
When John Terry got injured in the home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday last season, Elphick still didn’t get picked due to the presence of Chris Samba, but when he also sustained an injury, Bruce was forced to call on the 30 year old and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Filling the shoes of the new captain will not have been easy for Tommy Elphick, but to say he did so professionally would be an understatement. The ultimate professional, he would definitely have been disappointed at his lack of playing time but always got on with his work just waiting patiently for an opportunity, and when it came he did the best he could to grasp it. He was never going to permanently dislodge John Terry or James Chester from the starting line up as their partnership had proved too solid to disrupt, but his performances in the few games he did play for Aston Villa last season were very respectable. For example, the Englishman played in the vital win at Middlesbrough and the following thrashing of Bristol City at Villa Park, keeping consecutive clean sheets in difficult and testing matches. His leadership skills are there for all to see and his genuine passion for the club is also extremely apparent when he steps onto the pitch. Never one to back down from a challenge, he is a real old-school defender and would literally run through a brick wall if he had to. 20 minutes into his Aston Villa debut he was on the floor with blood dripping from his head, but he carried on and that tells you everything you need to know about his character.
The problem with Tommy Elphick is his pace, and apparent lack of it. He isn’t the most elegant or comfortable footballer, and isn’t a special athlete, but his intelligence, experience and determination are all attributes that can help him in sticky situations. Provided with decent cover from fellow team mates (especially the likes of Hutton), Elphick could be an incredibly influential defender for Villa, but isolated he is extremely vulnerable and isn’t someone that fills fans with too much confidence. That being said, in the current position the club find themselves in, Villa can’t be picky and having someone like Elphick around could be a blessing. A strong leader, an experienced professional, a calm character, a decent enough defender and a likeable person, there could be much worse people to have taking the club forward at this troubling and difficult time.
So while Elphick would be a step backwards from John Terry, he could still be a very decent performer for Villa and if he can regain the form he showed when he had to fill in for the former England captain over the Christmas period last season, then Villa fans really shouldn’t have too much to worry about in the defensive department.