Date: 18th February 2019 at 6:40am
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Tom Carroll is currently sidelined with a hip injury and Dean Smith has been lamenting his loss. Jack Grealish’s shin injury has kept him out of action for longer than anticipated and Conor Hourihane hasn’t managed to seize the opportunity playing in same position.

So when Aston Villa signed a player who had all attributes to be a good midfielder, it appeared he would be the replacement to Hourihane. Unfortunately, Carroll is still on the recovery trail and may not be back in time to face Stoke City on February 23.

Smith is desperate to see him return and didn’t hold back with his praise for Carroll, telling Villa’s official website: “He’s got a hip flexor problem and he tweaked it at Reading coming on. It is frustrating for him and frustrating for us as well. On top of that we have Jack Grealish out and Henri Lansbury out, players who can play in that position.

“We brought (Carroll) in because he is a terrific footballer. He can see a pass and keep the ball moving all the time. He will take the ball at any time as well. He will accept it under pressure and open things up for us. His absence isn’t helping.”

Carroll joined the Midlands club on loan from Swansea City on transfer deadline day and has racked up just 16 minutes of playing time, coming off the bench against Reading on February 2. He’s missed meetings with Sheffield United, Brentford and West Brom in recent weeks but should still play a large part in the remainder of the season.

If Grealish or Henri Lansbury had been fit, Hourihane could have lost his place in the side a lot earlier. Smith’s comments on Carroll suggest he’s finally got himself a temporary replacement for the talisman. Goals have dried up of late so injecting the squad with creativity could be key.

Read Crippy Cooke’s previous article

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