Aston Villa face Chelsea in our first game back after the international break, and Jaden Philogene-Bidace continues to make a strong case to get more playing time.
After making his senior debut at the end of last season, the 19-year-old featured heavily during our disrupted pre-season schedule and continued to impress.
That suggested that he could be involved at the start of our Premier League campaign particularly with others struggling for fitness, but he has been limited to just four minutes of action in the league while he contributed two assists in 90 minutes against Barrow in the Carabao Cup.
Philogene-Bidace was back in action for the U23s side in midweek, and after bagging a brace in the 3-1 win over Wycombe, he has given Dean Smith more to think about moving forward.
Buendia absence, Philogene-Bidace could get chance
After reporting for international duty with Argentina this week, Emiliano Buendia will miss the game against Chelsea due to Covid regulations and the subsequent need to isolate, and so Smith will have to make a change to his attacking unit at Stamford Bridge.
The obvious choice would be to bring in Ollie Watkins after he stepped up his recovery with an appearance off the bench against Brentford, but whether or not that would be too much of an attacking XI away at Chelsea is debatable and so Smith could stick with the same system and go for a like-for-like replacement.
With Leon Bailey also expected to be in contention after recovering from a hamstring injury, there are plenty of options for Villa in the final third, but it’s hoped that just as Jacob Ramsey and Carney Chukwuemeka have had chances to impress so far this season, that Philogene-Bidace is the next in line.
A straight swap for Buendia on the right wing with Bailey coming in for Anwar El Ghazi on the opposite flank combined with either Danny Ings or Ollie Watkins leading the line could be the way to go, but Philogene-Bidace has shown enough in pre-season and when involved for the senior side at Barrow that he can be decisive.
Naturally, a lot depends on how many players are back at Smith’s disposal, as if Bertrand Traore is fully fit and ready to make his comeback, it complicates matters further for our youngsters as they could fall down the pecking order. Nevertheless, we’ve seen enough from Philogene-Bidace to warrant an opportunity, be it a starting berth or a significant chance off the bench in the latter stage of the game to have an influence and showcase his talent.
⚽ Archer 42'
⚽ Philogene-Bidace 67'
⚽ Philogene-Bidace 90'
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) September 1, 2021