Aston Villa are on fire right now. Nine wins on the trot, and Dean Smith’s side are being touted by many as likely to gain promotion to the Premier League through the playoffs.
If the Midlanders can do that, they will need to strengthen their squad in several areas. One such position is left-back, where the reliable Neil Taylor could do with a youthful deputy.
Here are five candidates to make the move to Villa Park.
1) Rico Henry - Brentford
Henry was initially with Dean Smith at Walsall, then followed his boss to Brentford. The 21-year-old is lightning fast, and if moulded into a competent defender, could be a fearsome presence on the left side of the back four.
2) Umut Meras - Bursaspor
The 23-year-old Turk has impressed in the Super Lig this season, and is comfortable with the ball at his feet. Driving runs at opposing defenders, Meras could be a good addition if Villa want an overlapping threat.
3) Tim Handwerker - FC Groningen (on loan from FC Koln)
The Eredivisie is brimming with young talent, particularly at the left-back position. Whilst the more well known names such as Angelino and Ridgeciano Haps may be snaffled up by clubs with more purchasing power than Villa, I think that Tim Handwerker of Groningen is worth a look. A more defensively minded player than Meras, a compact back four would be achievable with the German in there.
4) Maximilian Wittek - Greuther Fuerth
Wittek has been a mainstay of the Greuther Fuerth lineup in the German second division this season, and like Handwerker, is a defensively able left-back. The 23-year-old might be knocking on the door of his national team soon, if he makes the right move next.
5) Lloyd Kelly - Bristol City
Now this is a big ‘if’ – but if Aston Villa can get promoted ahead of Bristol City this season, there’s every chance they could pluck Kelly and bring him to the top-flight as they go up. Maybe they can make the signing of this Bristol City left-back stick…