1. A new, long-term option to compete at left-back.
Importance: Very High
Neil Taylor looks like a different player under Dean Smith, but the bar for improvement was so low in previous years. He’ll play an important part for Aston Villa the rest of the season, and presumably the coming years as well with a contract until 2021.
But he’s 30 in February and fairly injury-prone.
Villa never got their man as summer target Joe Bryan elected to join Fulham over the claret and blue. Who’s the next Joe Bryan? Left-back rumours have been extraordinarily quiet over recent weeks, but it’s the most crucial position in need to strengthening. Alan Hutton is the only reserve option, but he’s out-of-contract at the end of the year.
If Smith doesn’t sign a left-back in January, he absolutely will in the summer.