Dean Smith’s men didn’t get off to a great start to the Premier League season, as they fell 3-0 behind to newly-promoted Watford, but clawed their way back before succumbing to a 3-2 defeat on the opening day – with Bailey, who the club signed this summer from Bayer Leverkusen in a £25m deal, coming on as a second-half substitute at Vicarage Road and grabbing an assist in the process.
Speaking about the team on a live video on the Newcastle United – Chronicle Facebook page ahead of their clash against the St. James’ Park side, Preece felt that things would change this weekend and that the new signing would feature in the starting lineup at Villa Park:
“The new boys did look okay, Leon Bailey especially. He will start on Saturday, I think. He looks a real player, £30m player there. And yeah, hopefully it can work.”
TIF Thoughts on David Preece’s comments about Leon Bailey for Aston Villa…
Can Leon Bailey truly replace Jack Grealish?
With Aston Villa facing a big change in identity following the loss of Jack Grealish this summer – someone who was incredibly important to their attacking output in the past – they are going to have to make up the numbers somehow, and Bailey is someone that they are potentially going to have to rely on a lot this season.
He bagged 15 goals and 11 assists for Bayer Leverkusen last season, so it’s clear that he can be a threat both in terms of scoring and creating, but whether or not he’ll be able to totally make up for the hole left behind by Grealish, we’ll just have to wait and see.
The key, though, is to make sure that he plays as early as possible and as often as possible, and with Newcastle showing they can be vulnerable at the back having conceded four on the opening weekend, this upcoming game should provide the perfect opportunity for him to try and showcase his stuff with the rest of the Villa team and for them to find out if he can be the heir apparent to Grealish.