Tommy Elphick, in the final year of his Aston Villa contract, departs for Hull City on a season-long loan. This was the end of Elphick’s time in the claret and blue – a player Steve Bruce saw as nothing more than an emergency option.
On loan deadline day, Aston Villa Football Club shipped away 4th centre-back Tommy Elphick to Hull City for the season. Elphick, 30, and in the final year of his contract, played his final game at the club in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup defeat. It’s a tough way to go out as the winning goal deflected off Elphick, and into the back of the net.
In Elphick’s 2+ years at Villa, the defender accumulated 33 appearances across all competitions. A vast majority of which came under previous manager Roberto Di Matteo. Of note, Tommy was Dr. Tony Xia’s first signing after taking over from Randy Lerner. He was free signing from Bournemouth after relegation, a move widely praised from media, pundits, and supporters alike.
More from Claret Villans
- Aston Villa dismiss Everton for first win of Premier League season
- Tyrone Mings injured in Aston Villa’s season-opening 5-1 defeat
- Aston Villa draw Hibernian or FC Luzern for Europa Conference League play-off
- Aston Villa sign winger Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen
- Aston Villa close in on deal to sign Pau Torres from Villareal
Elphick’s departure further solidifies Mile Jedinak’s status as starting centre-half, regardless of performance. With Axel Tuanzebe, the only natural central defender at the club outside of James Chester playing right-back and defensive midfield, options remain dearth.
Someone has to fill Elphick’s role as an emergency centre-back (at least until January, when a permanent signing can be made. Aston Villa have already utilized all five allotted matchday loan spots).
That someone is James Bree, another player so rarely used. In his few appearances, especially this season and last, Bree has played centre-back far more than his nominal fullback role. With Elphick’s leaving, it’s fair to presume Steve Bruce sees James Bree as a centre-back from a development standpoint.
Bree played the full 90 minutes at CB against Burton, where he was tabbed as the ‘best of the worst.’ Between that and his scant appearances at the position for the under-23 reserves, we may be seeing a position switch for the 20-year old defender.
Villa’s fullback situation is pretty poor. And it’s been poor for some time. If Bruce isn’t playing Bree over the likes of Neil Taylor and Ritchie De Laet, a player he loaned away in January, it’s fair to say he doesn’t see him developing as a fullback.