Here’s a discussion focusing on whether Rushian Hepburn-Murphy or Keinan Davis should go out on loan. If they do, how are Villa and the player benefiting?
Dean Smith is now approaching his 5th-game on the job as Aston Villa head coach. In that time the players used in squads have been largely unchanged when compared with Steve Bruce’s selections. It has brought a mix bag of results, but performances and style of play have certainly improved in that time-frame. It’s brings me nicely to the question of whether players who are still out in the cold, through injury or otherwise, can play their way into Smith’s plans?
There are a selection of underused players I can choose to discuss, such as Henri Lansbury and James Bree, but I will focus on two forwards; Rushian Hepburn Murphy and Keinan Davis. Hepburn Murphy (RHM for short) made a few cameo appearances off the bench in place of the now healthy Scott Hogan but didn’t pull up any trees in those few minute outings. He did make 2 cup starts against lower league opponents but he failed to make a lasting impression in either. It should be argued that he was starved of service and being closely marked by defenders much bigger than him though. The subsequent arrival of Tammy Abraham and return of Scott Hogan ensured RHM returned to playing U23 football again.
Keinan Davis is someone with much more first-team exposure than RHM. Very much a star turn in the 1st half of last season, the fact he hasn’t been seen since is a real shame. A nasty groin injury has kept him out since March, and although he should be approaching full training in the next few weeks, he has a lot of competition to get back in the fold; Abraham, Hogan and Jonathan Kodjia are not easy to dislodge.
I think a solution is to loan either of them out, a 4th or 5th-choice striker role is likely to be their best option when everyone else is fit in that position, so a temporary move away in January may benefit either of the two. There’s nothing better than playing games and scoring a few goals whilst on loan to get your manager’s attention. That would very much be the remit for Davis or RHM should they move to pastures new for a few months in the new year.