Often young players play out of their skin to impress in the senior set-up – and Mitch Clark has certainly done that this season. With Steve Bruce speaking highly of the youngster, he should be picked in the match day squad over struggling Neil Taylor.
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH) // Follow us on Twitter (@claretandview)
Times are changing as Aston Villa and with that change, Villa supporters may see familiar faces no longer getting as much playing time due to the amount of young talent coming through the ranks. While there is much speculation surrounding who may be shipped out of Villa before the early transfer deadline, there is also much speculation if any of the talented young Lions will start to make their mark on the Villa starting eleven.
If there was a player who has seemed to not be able to settle into a permanent spot last season at Aston Villa, it is left-back Neil Taylor. Taylor was a part of a swap deal with Swansea City for Jordan Ayew in January of 2017, which made many Villa supporters scratch their heads. But, Taylor didn’t have a terrible 2016/2017 campaign for Villa by any means. After Steve Bruce started to lean towards a more offensive tactical approach this past season, Taylor looked out of sorts. While Taylor does not possess any great physical strength or pace, he does offer a wealth of experience.
Mitch Clark Could Certainly Take Taylor’s Spot
Alas, experience isn’t everything when it comes to football. And sometimes you find a player who plays outside of themselves once given a chance for first-team action. The 19-year old Mitch Clark could very well be that kind of player for Aston Villa and hopefully sooner rather than later.
Clark had an exceptional preseason game against Telford in a 3-1 win and really took the chance to showcase his skills. The young Lion played on the left-side of a defensive three, with Andre Green in front of him as a wing-back. Clark displayed tactical awareness beyond his years. He also made it a point to loft searching passes across the pitch to try and stretch the opposition.
Steve Bruce thinks very highly of the young Mitch Clark, as well. After Clark made his professional debut in a Carabao Cup contest against Wigan last season, Bruce had some high praise for the young defender:
“He’s tough, quick, and can play in any position. He’s one of those if you ask him to do something and he does it. He’s got that fierce determination in him. And he’s got that bit of devilment in him which is always good as a defender. He had a very good debut considering that he’s played out of position. I was aware of it but I was assured by (Villa U23 Head Coach) Kevin MacDonald that he would handle it and how right was he. He was terrific.”
Clark has shown that he is very versatile, playing in every single defensive position for the Aston Villa U23’s last season. This kind of versatility, coupled with his determination and ability on the pitch, is exactly why Mitch Clark was awarded a new contract at the end of last season. It would only be a good thing for the 19 year old to be blooded into the first team over the course of the upcoming season. It would be a little bit of an ask for Clark to play hefty minutes for Aston Villa, but it would be a joy to see one of our promising youth players get 20-30 minutes a substitute here or there and feature prominently in Cup competitions when the situation presented itself.