Aston Villa Academy graduate Mitch Clark is enjoying a very fine season so far in 2018/19. With a number of fans reflecting on his Under 23 performances and wanting former manager Steve Bruce to bring him into the first team fold – instead, we loaned him out for more regular football to locals Port Vale.
The 19-year-old defender has more than made the most of that chance, featuring in 16 games for the Valiants already and not only has he established himself as a regular, he’s forced the fans to take him to their hearts with his performances whether they wanted to or not.
With a number of fans believing that we should recall him in January and give him a first team shot in the second half of the year given ongoing doubts in defence, Villa have given him permission to take part in Vale’s FA Cup campaign later this month.
Their gaffer Neil Aspin’s words are good to hear when it comes to his progress though.
“He’s been a vital signing for us. We obviously had a couple of other choices coming up to deadline day and in another couple of positions as well but I felt we needed cover in the full-back areas and he’s done really well for us. Like all young players his job is to keep on top of his game, to keep learning, keep progressing, to get better. If he does that then he’s certainly going to have a bright future.”
Aspin sensibly appears to be driving Clark on though, as despite the delight at Villa’s decision to let him play, he also commented.
What this means for a recall, I tend to think Smith has decided that a full season of football with one eye on the next campaign is the way forward, and I can certainly see the sense in that as 40 odd games is better for his development than five with us at this point in time.
But there will be those who are disappointed with this development.