The 28-year-old player started his fourth successive game at left-back against Villa after returning from a five-week absence. However, he was forced to be replaced at half-time, which contributed to an uncomfortable second half. Scott McTominay scored an 86th-minute winner, securing a momentous victory for the team.
The substitution of the player was confirmed as a precaution due to “some complaints” that weren’t worth risking. The team’s philosophy is to have left-footers at left centre-back and left-back, and the absence of key players has led to compromises in the lineup. The coach openly admitted that his system couldn’t fully thrive without left-footed players to balance the team in the build-up.
The absence of certain players has limited the options available. The returns of injured players in January have sparked the team’s best run of form in a season filled with injuries. With upcoming matches, the team aims to continue closing the gap in the standings before March.