Leon Bailey is in line to return to the Aston Villa squad that takes on Arsenal at the Emirates on Friday night. The Jamaican international has missed four games after a thigh injury.
The speedster signed for Villa from Bayer 04 Leverkusen in a deal believed to be in the region of £30million in the summer. Despite impressing during his short spells for Villa, he has only made three cameo appearances so far. In those 86 minutes he has contributed to a goal and assist as Villa fans are eager to see much more.
Questions have been made from the Villa faithful about his fitness but for a player who has averaged 36 appearances per season in the Bundesliga over the past four seasons hopefully, there is nothing to worry about.
Dean Smith will have to make a decision on the player’s fitness when they travel to the Emirates. The player has been in training all week but is he ready to start for the game live on Sky Sports.
And if he is? How does he fit in a 5-3-2 system that many Villa fans already consider a system that isn’t working and more of a system of using just to fit in all the names into the starting line-up?
Smith has not been able to play Bailey alongside fellow new signing Emi Buendia who impressed in spells in the 2-3 defeat to Wolves the weekend. But knowing how cautious Smith can be, I would expect Bailey to start on the bench.
Bailey himself will have a busy winter ahead of him with Jamaica. If fit, he will no doubt be called up to play in their World Cup Qualifying campaign as they try and play catch up to Covid.
The Reggae Boyz will take on Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica between January 28th and February 2nd. Luckily for Villa, they don’t have a fixture during that time due to the new mid-season break in the Premier League.
But should Villa progress in the FA Cup they could be back in action just three days later in the FA Cup fourth round. Players travelling from South America has caused Smith headaches already this season with Emi Martinez, Buendia and Douglas Luiz all being affected.
With Baileys early season fitness issues, it’s a lot to ask for a player short on first-team action and the Premier League break may have done him a favour but it is very unlikely to happen. Smith will have to manage the player and may have to rotate him to not cause more serious injuries throughout the season.