You’d be hard pushed to find a player who has clocked up more air miles in his career than Mile Jedinak, with the veteran midfielder a prominent figure in Australia’s national side and having enjoyed a domestic career dating back to 2001.
At thirty-two, he still has a few years left at the top and his performances are showing just that. Despite his current contributions, eventually, the time will come when Aston Villa will look for better options in the sitting midfielder role.
On Saturday, Jedinak was shifted to centre-back after the injury to Nathan Baker. The move raised eyebrows, particularly with Tommy Elphick and Micah Richards sitting on the bench, but it paid dividends.
Composed and calm on the ball, Jedinak was often the last man and it worked well with Wednesday’s lack of pace up top. Jedinak doesn’t possess pace but what he does possess is defensive discipline and composure on the ball despite his questionable passing.
It may be harsh to write Jedinak off in a midfield role but adding more strings to his bow will only increase his longevity in a claret and blue shirt, which I have no qualms about whatsoever.
Paul Warne, the Rotherham United boss, was full of praise for the Australian, saying, “Any realms of attacking play were denied by Jedinak. I thought he was outstanding. He stopped everything we tried to do.”
Given his injury record, playing centre back could bring out the best of Jedinak’s ability. Against the Owls, he mopped up well behind James Chester but also offered an outlet as a ball-playing centre-half, something which is essential to a better brand of football.
I think we have one of the best midfielders in the league in Mile Jedinak and he fits perfectly in the three of Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury but there will come a point when he will be challenged for his position, meaning he will have to adapt.
Over the next few years, whichever league we are competing in, Mile Jedinak will offer a level-headed and never say die attitude that will help us enormously. Having versatility is key to any side and Mile Jedinak is proving that currently.
I genuinely don’t know where we would be this season without Mile Jedinak in our side. His influence is sometimes not even noticed but he is what every side needs. He isn’t the quickest but nine times out of ten he will make a good fist of breaking up an attack.
Jedinak is proving to be one of the signings of the season. How many breakaways has he prevented? His work can often go unnoticed because he can make it look effortless.
He isn’t flawless by any means and I really do wish he had greater passing ability. Then again, I don’t think we would have secured his signature if he had a Xavi-esque passing range in his locker too.
The statistics do not lie, however. Jedinak has had a part to play in every victory so far this season for the Villans. If that doesn’t show his importance to the side then nothing does. They say goals change games. It’s more than that: defensive solidity changes the outcome of games and when you have a player like Mile Jedinak in front of your defence you will have every chance of a good performance.
We can’t become overly reliant on Jedinak, especially with the miles he clocks up. We desperately need to find a similar back up and I believe Jordan Lyden could well be that player. Jordan Lyden and Gary Gardner could both learn a lot from Jedinak but I think Lyden could be the more natural back up option when he returns to the senior squad.
Whether it be as a defender or midfielder, I’m sure we’re all happy to see Mile Jedinak continue to make his presence felt in claret and blue.