Aston Villa: Tommy Elphick soldiered on through thick and thin

Aston Villa centre-half Tommy Elphick left the 4-0 victory over Derby County with what looked like a serious left leg injury. Hopefully, it’s not the last we’ve seen of him.

Tommy Elphick is in the final year of his three-year contract he signed back in 2016 as Aston Villa’s first signing following relegation from the Premier League. A leader at Bournemouth with physical deficiencies for consistent top-flight inclusion with the Cherries, it was expected that Elphick would change the club’s culture under then-manager Roberto Di Matteo.

It didn’t quite turn out that way, but Elphick’s Villa career is one of redemption after years on the periphery.

If that was indeed Elphick’s final Villa appearance, he went out a winner.

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Elphick’s first two months at the club were a struggle as Villa won just a single match under RDM before his firing. As captain, Elphick received much of the blame as his appearances in central defense lacked enough requisite quality. Steve Bruce came in and the player was not in his immediate plans as the captaincy shifted over to James Chester following an injury.

He was not able to take part in Villa’s play-off run during the 2017/2018 season as John Terry was brought in to partner James Chester at the heart of the defense. In January, when the club acquired Axel Tuanzebe on loan from Manchester United, Elphick was shifted to Reading on loan. There, he played well but a knee injury cut short his season before the summer. Bruce, still in charge at the start of this season, pushed Elphick out to Hull City, as again, Chester, Jedinak(!?) and Tuanzebe were favored.

Dean Smith put a stop to that silliness in January when he recalled the defender from his season-long loan. He helped keep a draw on New Year’s Day when Tuanzebe previously broke his foot, Chester pushed through knee ailments, and James Bree filled-in centrally.

From January to February, Elphick was one of Villa’s best performers alongside Tyrone Mings during a poor run of results. Hopefully, the injury is less serious than it looked. Tuanzebe and Chester are still a few weeks away.