Aston Villa 2-2 Wycombe: Wrap and Reaction from Preseason Friendly
Manager Paul Lambert will be pleased with what he saw but a little irritated that his players continue to pick up a worrying number of unfortunate knocks whilst trying to regain match fitness and form.
The starting lineup included 17-year-old Jack Grealish, recent star of Villa's NextGen series win, while Samir Carruthers, Graham Burke, Janoi Donacien, Joshua Webb and Daniel Johnson all received at least 30 minutes of playing time.
It's representative of the pile of injuries the club is currently facing, with Marc Albrighton, Jores Okore, Aleksandar Tonev and Gabby Agbonlahor all resting bruised bodies. Joe Bennett and Nicklas Helenius also sat out, while Christian Benteke has only been at training two days.
Andreas Weimann and Jordan Bowery both hobbled off—the latter in the closing stages, leaving the visitors to play with 10 men—to further worry Lambert, who must now re-assess ahead of a date against Luton Town.
Off the back of Benteke's decision to stay at Villa and sign a new four-year deal, the fans quickly changed their tune. Cries of "Oooh! Christian Benteke!" rang around Adams Park as the travelling faithful showed their gratitude to the Belgian, erasing any lingering resentment over the saga.
"You heard the crowd, they can’t wait to see him back again which is great," he told Goal.com. "It’s great. It puts everything to bed, the speculation. ‘Is he or isn’t he? What’s going on with him?"
Some of the play on the pitch was assured, and Grealish—playing in the No. 10 role for a 4-2-3-1—was pulling all the strings early on with confidence.
Leandro Bacuna continued to impress from the wing, clipping in a nice cross for Matthew Lowton to head level in the first half. With his assist against Bochum, he is making the most out of a full preseason programme of all Villa's six summer signings.
Villa now face Luton on July 24, and Benteke will be expected to play some part in the match after rejoining the camp after extended leave.
Fans will be hoping to see the club finally land a win at the fifth time of asking, Benteke and Okore to return and the continued use of Villa's talented academy youngsters.
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