Assessing Aston Villa's Left-Midfield Options Following the Injuries to Jack Grealish & Andre Green
Steve Bruce has been left with a headache this week following the news that Andre Green could be out for several months.
The 19-year-old was withdrawn from Saturday's 0-0 draw with Brentford due to a hamstring injury, and Bruce has since confirmed he has undergone an operation to resolve the reoccurring problem.
It comes as a real blow for the winger, who began the season as Villa's first choice left-midfielder, following the kidney injury sustained by Jack Grealish in pre-season, that will likely keep him out until after Christmas.
With Green and Grealish being the only natural left-wingers in the squad, Bruce will have to find someone who can adequately fill the void created by the two youngsters.
Ahmed Elmohamady, Robert Snodgrass and Albert Adomah are Villa's remaining wide-midfielders, but all three prefer playing on the right-hand side.
Adomah came on as a second half substitute against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night and played on the left of a midfield four. However, he looked awkward and struggled to be as creative playing on his weaker side.
The 29-year-old will likely be asked to play there again, as Snodgrass recently voiced his displeasure at playing left-midfield when at West Ham, while Elmohamady lacks the attacking capabilities for the position.
Another option for Bruce is to play a 4-3-3 shape, meaning Green's replacement does not have to shoulder as much defensive work rate.
Birkir Bjarnason started against Middlesbrough in this position and could do so again, while Gabriel Agbonlahor and the recently returned Jonathan Kodjia could play in this role.
The Ivory Coast international has played on the left of a front three before at Villa, and is deadly cutting inside on his right foot.
Villa could also revert to a 3-5-2 shape which Bruce has tried previously.
If he were to deploy this shape again, Neil Taylor would be asked to play in a left-wing-back position.
The former Swansea man is vastly experienced playing in this system following his exploits with the Welsh national team.
Steve Bruce certainly has a lot to consider before his side visit Barnsley on Saturday, where the Villans will be desperate to claim only their second league win of the season.