Kortney Hause always ready when called upon

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Kortney Hause

Kortney Hause has spent nearly 200 days on the treatment table since initially joining Aston Villa on loan in 2019.

The former Wolves centre-back – who’d later join Villa on a permanent deal after helping the club restore its Premier League status – has struggled to find a consistent run in Dean Smith’s side after struggling with injuries throughout his time with the club.

Now 25-years-old despite only starting 21 Premier League games in his career, Hause has reached the heights he was tipped to by his former Wycombe Wanderers gaffer, Gareth Ainsworth in 2012.

Born in Goodmayes in North East London, Hause was released by West Ham at the age of 16 after joining the club’s academy from his local side Lakeview F.C. Although, Hause would later sign for Birmingham City as a scholar following his release from Upton Park.

Having spent only a few months at Birmingham, Hause was again left to look elsewhere for his break in professional football. He’d soon join Wycombe in 2012 and make his professional debut in 2013 before becoming a regular in the Chairboys’ starting side in the following season. An ankle fracture would however put pay to his hopes of ending the 2013-14 League Two campaign with a flourish, but his injury woes wouldn’t end there.

A move back to the West Midlands to join Kenny Jackett’s Wolves was on the cards as Wycombe escaped relegation out of the Football League on the final day and after a short loan move to Gillingham, Hause would settle in Birmingham for good.

As the Portuguese revolution was in full swing at Molineux, Hause’s playing time was severely cut under Nuno Espirito Santo as Villa prepared to make a fist of Championship promotion after going a season reliant on goals from Jonathan Kodjia just to keep the weekends bearable across the 2016-17 season.

Hause would make an initial loan switch to Villa Park after the club were in the middle of mounting their second promotion bid after falling in the Championship Play-Off Final against Fulham the year before, but as Hause made his debut in a 3-0 defeat to Wigan, thoughts of Premier League football were a distant dream at this point.

After securing a win on his opening game against Swansea City that season, Smith’s side would win away at Frank Lampard’s Derby 3-0 and Middlesborough by the same, convincing margin. Most satisfying of all was a 4-2 victory over bitter rivals Birmingham despite their nine minutes in dreamland threatening to spoil Smith’s first game in charge of a second city derby.

In the turbulent manner, Villa tends to operate, progress under Smith would all but undo after winning only two of the 14 fixtures that preceded Villa’s 3-0 win on Teesside and Jack Grealish’s shin injury had sidelined, head and shoulders the best player in the league indefinitely.

Villa’s season was in tatters and the play-off picture had forgotten about Villa who’d failed to beat Stoke, Reading, Hull and QPR, before losing 3-0 at the DW Stadium as Hause was thrown in at the deep end.

Hause celebrates with his team mates

Smith would however prove his worth as the Villa gaffer early on in his tenure and by handing Grealish the captain’s armband, Villa would soon embark on a club record 10-match winning run that garnered so much momentum that the club would achieve promotion through the richest game in football.

Throughout his injury-stricken career so far, Hause has played second-fiddle to other centre-backs at Wolves and now Villa, but while he was presented the opportunity to retain his starting place in Smith’s play-off chasing side, he didn’t half take it.

Axel Tuanzebe’s legacy at Villa Park has been remembered as one that helped form a formidable pairing with Mings at the heart of a solid Championship defence, but as Villa started their 10-match winning run, it was Hause who deputised while Tuanzebe nursed a metatarsal feature during Villa’s mid-season slump.

Hause started from the left-back position as Villa drew 1-1 at Stoke City and that result seemed like a turning point for Smith’s side who’d welcome Grealish back into the fold the following weekend to help Villa to a 4-0 victory over Derby.

That result was one of six successive wins Villa took as Hause became a mainstay in Smith’s team. A hip flexor problem would see Hause miss much of Villa’s league season and following play-off campaign, yet the partnership he struck with Mings – having played on the right side of defence despite being naturally left-footed – was one that many fans have let slip from their memory.

Adjusting to Premier League life and becoming a popular figure at Bodymoor Heath

During the run in which Hause helped Villa win the first six successive games in the club’s record winning run, Hause scored his first in claret and blue against Nottingham Forest in a 3-1 win at the City Ground.

It would take Hause another 15 months to score his next Villa goal, but after nursing injuries to his ankle and ribs during that time, Hause once again stepped up for Villa when it mattered most. During Project Restart, Hause was afforded another extended run in Smith’s starting side and scored against Chelsea.

Running towards the corner flag after putting Villa one-up before half time, Hause marked the first Premier League goal of his career to celebrate his fundraising efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While football was put on hold during the first national lockdown last year, footballers were busy finding innovative ways to keep themselves occupied and Hause used the time to make his first foray into the music business, releasing a song titled ‘Worth It’.

Hause generously donating all proceeds from the song to the NHS and the battle against coronavirus. He told SunSport: “I come from a family of seven boys and we were brought up in a musical background.

“My older brothers used to listen to the likes of Michael Jackson, Usher and Chris Brown. We would join forces and sing together at family parties and stuff. We used to literally think we were the Jackson Five growing up — and I used to believe I was Michael Jackson!

“I love all types of music, whether it is rap or RnB, classical, indie or rock. I appreciate every genre of music, as long as it sounds good to me and has a vibe to it.

“I went down the RnB route because I just feel it suits the tone of my voice best. I’m the first member of my family to release a single.

“But my younger brother Rio is 20 and he is going to release some of his music soon.”

His centre-back teammate, Konsa recently put Villa’s defensive improvements this season down to the relationships Villa players share on and off the field. When Hause released his track, it was played on repeat at Bodymoor Heath.

Hause added: “I’ve sent the full track to a few of them and all of them love it. I’m always singing in the changing room or even the gym while I’m working out.

“I appeared on a music video three years ago — for Alpha’s single Cheques, — along with Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Leicester’s Demarai Gray. I have known Ainsley since I was young and he wrote a song.

“I have been blessed with a decent singing voice and I have a decent following with football. So I thought why not do something I enjoy and hopefully make some money for the NHS and show my support to all the NHS workers.”

During this Premier League campaign, Villa have been hunting down more clean sheets after registering 14 of them from the first 26 league games of the season, following a goalless draw against Wolves at the start of March.

After recording a sixth shut-out during a 10 game run in which Smith’s side would lose their influential skipper Grealish, at that point in the season, Villa still had one eye in Europe after keeping clean sheets in more than half of the Premier League games they had played.

Though, after winning just three of the last 12, Villa have found goals hard to come by while results have also left a lot to be desired without Grealish on the pitch. Throughout the season, at the other end, Villa’s defence have been chasing down Brad Friedel’s record of keeping 15 clean sheets in a single Premier League campaign.

In the 2009-2010 top-flight season, Friedel and the solid defensive unit in front of him managed to help the club towards a top-six finish. Although, while finishing in a European spot is off the cards this season, Emiliano Martinez, Matty Cash, Konsa, Mings and Matt Targett will form the base of a solid foundation that Villa hope to play off next term.

Hause’s game time will no doubt be limited as the form of Konsa and Mings shows no signs of letting up, but his place in the squad is integral and when his chance comes to play his part on the pitch again, he’ll step in without any fuss like he always has.

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