Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is coming under fire at Villa Park for allowing midfielder Conor Hourihane to join Swansea City on loan, a report from Football Insider has claimed.
Having struggled for game time in Smith’s side during the first half of the season, Hourihane was loaned out to Championship promotion chasers Swansea during the January transfer window.
Since then, the Irishman has scored five goals and provided one assist in 12 league appearances for the Swans, producing some impressive performances for Steve Cooper’s side.
Now it seems that the decision to let Hourihane go, has become something of a controversial topic around Villa Park.
According to this latest update, questions are starting to grow behind the scenes about just why Hourihane was allowed to leave the club in the January window.
It is understood that with the influential Jack Grealish having missed each of Villa’s last five games through injury, there is a thought that the creativity provided by Hourihane could have helped the club to get through that challenging recent period.
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As things stand, there is just over a year remaining on Hourihane’s contract with Aston Villa, securing his future in the Midlands until the end of next season.
This seems slightly harsh on Smith to me, even if it could be argued that Villa are missing Hourihane’s creativity right now, as evidenced by his impact in Wales.
At the time when Hourihane was loaned out, he had played very little first-team football this season, so Smith was doing right by the player by letting him get that chance at Swansea.
Indeed, you feel that had Grealish not been injured, then Villa would hardly have noticed Hourihane’s absence at all, and there was no way for Smith to know that such a situation would arise.
Add to that the fact that Smith has taken Villa from a side who only avoided relegation by the narrowest of margins last season, to one now still with a chance of reaching Europe, and it doesn’t seem too fair to hold one decision such as this against him too much.