Date: 28th May 2018 at 2:30pm
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With Wembley Play-Off disappointment now in the rearview mirror for Aston Villa following our defeat to Fulham – well the result might be behind us, the emotions are still biting deep – Vital Villa forum member Ricardomeister2 has been looking at which players will potentially make up the nucleus of the side as we head into another year in the Championship.

With the likes of John Terry, Chris Samba and Gabby Agbonlahor now out of contract when the season officially comes to an end from the legal perspective, we also lose the likes of Sam Johnstone, Robert Snodgrass and Lewis Grabban as their loan deals come to an end.

The players named of course aren’t the full list of departures we can expect this summer. With Financial Fair Play concern for fans, even those under contract for the season ahead could be moved on to lighten the financial hit we now take from failure to gain promotion and a shrinking, final, Parachute Payment.

So, to Ricardo’s thoughts – he may not be far off the mark in my humble (whether I like that or not).

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Of Saturday’s starting 11, I think only Ahmed Elmohamady, Conor Hourihane and Albert Adomah are almost guaranteed to stay.

Of the loanees, I think Axel Tuanzebe is the most likely to come back and I would be happy to see him at centre back next season (hopefully alongside James Chester, who I am cautiously optimistic will want to stay).

I would not totally rule out any of the other loanees coming back but it seems Bournemouth want to sell Lewis Grabban and I doubt we can afford the reported £5m asking price (maybe we would sell Scott Hogan to finance a deal?). Sam Johnstone will probably end up at a Premier League club and Robert Snodgrass maybe at another Championship club with greater funds as I doubt that West Ham want him.

I can’t see John Terry coming back unless he takes a big cut in wages. Alan Hutton may well come back, unless West Brom or Stoke want him and offer him more money.

If someone offers £30m for Jack Grealish then reluctantly I think he would have to go. I hope he stays, and maybe we could promise him a move if we don’t go up next season, or even in January if we are doing badly?

I think we will have to use the loan market to add 4-5 players. Fulham had 6 (and had to leave 1 out of each match day squad) and it worked out pretty well for them.

I can understand the calls to blood our promising youngsters but it is a big step up from under 23 football so I can only see 1 or 2 regularly in the 18.

Obviously, there is a huge amount of work to be done on the squad so I think we need confirmation this week of whether Bruce will stay or not. It’s a difficult one as part of me thinks he deserves to start next season and changing managers every 18 months rarely works, but his tactics and style of play still worry me.

If we can scrape £10m from selling some of the fringe players and then loaning out others to further offset some costs, then hopefully we can buy some genuine pace as a lack of pace has been a major deficiency. A possible big move for Boro’s Adama Traore could generate a few million assuming we included a sell on clause.

Whilst I am still deflated after Saturday, I also think that we can be amongst the 10-12 possible promotion contenders (I don’t currently see similar quality to a 2017-18 Wolves or a Fulham in next season’s Championship and any clear favourite), if we make the right signings and get some pace into the team.

Obviously, it will be tougher next season but not impossible.

Writer: Ricardomeister2

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As said, I don’t think Ricardo’s thoughts will be far off the mark – anyone seeing it play out any differently?

As of today – what is the nucleus of the side to start in August? – Forum Thread.

 
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