Time for Cleverley to shine if he still harbours Man Utd hopes

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An unfortunate tumble in training has cast serious doubts over the fitness of Aston Villa’s star midfielder Fabian Delph for their forthcoming trip to Everton, meaning others must replace his driving force in midfield.

Some reports even suggest that Delph’s injured shoulder may yet require surgery, which would represent a killer blow following a dismal run of three consecutive losses heading to Goodison Park.

Paul Lambert’s men have already left Merseyside with three points this season, though given the aforementioned trio of defeats, it’s no surprise to see Villa cast as 9/2 outsiders to beat Everton.

Delph’s probable exclusion from the starting line-up leaves Lambert with a major headache, but ironically enough it’s a summer target of the Toffees within the Villa ranks who may be the Scotsman’s best hope to fill the England midfielder’s shoes.

On loan from Manchester United, Tom Cleverley has lost his place in the England set-up because of the rapid evolution of players such as his injured teammate.

Strangely enough, United’s academy director has already tipped Cleverley to make a successful return to his Old Trafford career next season, even though he’s yet to prove his worth to Villa over a long enough period.

As the old saying goes there is no time like the present and with Villa in dire need of a positive result, the stage is set for the loan man to show what he’s made of.

Of the lengthy list of criticisms thrown Cleverley’s way, his lack of risk taking is among the most prominent – something Delph is fast forging his own reputation on at Villa Park.

Goals are another, and if Cleverley could begin to address these shortcomings starting at Goodison, then any hopes of throwing on the famous red shirt again may just become reality.

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