Guilbert solution could help Villa save on right-back issue this summer

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has seen Matty Cash establish himself as our first-choice right-back this season, but depth is still an issue in that department.

Fortunately, the 23-year-old summer recruit from Nottingham Forest has rarely been missing having made 26 appearances in the Premier League so far this season.

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Stalwart Ahmed Elmohamady has stepped in in his absence, but with his contract set to expire this summer, it looks as though there will be a hole to fill in the Villa squad.

As things stand, Elmohamady won’t be signing a contract renewal. Elsewhere, Frederic Guilbert is currently out on loan at Strasbourg. Beyond that, Villa don’t have any other options at senior level with youngster Kaine Kesler knocking on the door to get an opportunity.

Instead of looking to the transfer market to address the issue though, those are two options that surely make sense for Villa and in turn would allow us to focus our transfer budget on other areas of the squad where it’s needed more.

Guilbert, 26, made 31 appearances for Villa prior to joining Strasbourg on loan in January, and he’s since gone on to appear 11 times for the Ligue 1 outfit, scoring once and providing three assists to go along with his defensive duties.

By all accounts, it has been a positive loan stint back in France for the most part, and he has shown enough quality to suggest that he can still play a role for us moving forward.

The key issue here though is whether or not he’s content with being second choice and pushing Cash for a starting berth. If he is, it’s surely a no-brainer to bring him back into the fold and avoid splashing out on another right-back.

If he wants regular football and has to look elsewhere for it, then it becomes a headache for Smith and Villa as they must either then put their faith in Kesler while simultaneously risking his development if he doesn’t play often at senior level, or go out and find another option on the market.

Ideally, Cash, Guilbert and Kesler will be the rotation for us next season across all competitions, while there’s still an outside hope that we can qualify for the Europa League and that in turn will mean an even busier fixture schedule next year.

In that scenario, we’ll need all three to ensure we have enough quality depth and competition, but bringing Guilbert back and being able to avoid spending more money on another right-back would arguably be the ideal outcome for the summer.