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Whelan Remains an Asset for Villa Despite Difficult Period

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Glenn Whelan signed for Aston Villa following their relegation to the Championship back in 2017, with the Republic of Ireland international having been widely regarded as one of the best signings of the summer when he swapped the Britannia Stadium for Villa Park for just £1 million. The midfielder played a key role in Villa consolidating their Championship position in their second season outside of the top-flight, with manager Steve Bruce having counted on Whelan as one of his go-to men throughout the campaign.

Despite Whelan having been used intermittently under the leadership of new boss Dean Smith, the 34-year-old is a player still for the big occasion, especially after his decision to retire from international football after earning 82 caps. Whelan was a second-half substitute in Villa’s recent defeat against QPR at Loftus Road, before being left out altogether as they recovered from that loss to comfortably see off Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park.

This win moved Smith’s side up to 14th in the standings, with Smith and Assistant manager John Terry undoubtedly hoping to lead Villa to a promotion challenge in the remainder of the campaign.

Whelan was a former youth player at Manchester City, however, it was his move to Stoke City in 2008 that saw him make a name for himself, with the midfielder going on to make 291 appearances for the Potters during a nine-year spell at the club. Under Bruce, Whelan made 30 starts for Villa during his first season at the club, scoring just one goal, however, his chances have been limited this time around, with the veteran having started just four games in all competitions during the 18/19 campaign.

Travelling away fans during Villa’s recent trip to QPR were quick to criticise several players for their performance on the night, including Whelan, who showed signs of his advancing years at Loftus Road. However, his passing ability and experience in the middle of the park means that he is likely to continue to earn game time at certain periods during the season, despite being behind the likes of John McGinn and Conor Hourihane in the pecking order at present.

New management duo Smith and Terry are seemingly looking to adopt a more fast-paced pressing style of football at the club, something which may not suit Whelan’s style of play. The Irishman is undoubtedly still capable of the odd moment of magic however, while his experience could undoubtedly help youngsters such as Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham.

Villa are still lacking any form of consistency this season, having won two and lost three of their last five matches. However, the state of play in the Championship standings at present means that they find themselves just five point away from the final playoff position, currently held by Nottingham Forest.

 

Villa have seen plenty of changes at the club over recent months, with bookmaker 32Red having become their sole sponsor, while UniBet features on all of Villa’s training kit. Villa fans should undoubtedly look to take advantage of the promotions available with both bookmakers, with 32Red offering a free bet worth £5 for when customers unsuccessfully bet on Dean Smith’s side to win.

Meanwhile, Unibet offer a cashback offer involving Villa, available on first, last and anytime goalscorer markets. Moreover, according to bookmaker review sites, such as topbettingapps.co.uk, both bookies offer generous bonuses for the new customers and top-notch mobile apps for those who want bet on the go.

It remains to be seen as to whether Whelan will return to the Villa squad for their trip to Derby, however, the midfielder will certainly be keen to demonstrate that he still has the skills to mix it at this level, with Villa’s squad being largely dominated by experienced bodies.