The two players who Stoke City have loaned from Premier League Aston Villa this season could still have a future with their parent club.
That’s the view of former England and Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson, who has seen enough from both James Chester and Scott Hogan this season to suggest that they might still be a part of Dean Smith’s future plans.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic forcing the suspension of the EFL and Premier League, Villa were sitting in the relegation spots and, should the campaign be completed as hoped, they’ll have a battle on their hands to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, where Stoke currently find themselves.
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Adam Davies, Adam Federici.
Defenders: Danny Batth, Moritz Bauer**, James Chester*, Nathan Collins, Tom Edwards, Liam Lindsay, Bruno Martins Indi, Ryan Shawcross, Tommy Smith, Harry Souttar**, Josh Tymon, Stephen Ward, Kevin Wimmer**.
Midfielders: Joe Allen, Sam Clucas, Jordan Cousins, Peter Etebo**, James McClean, Badou Ndiaye**, Nick Powell, Ollie Shenton**, Lasse Sorensen, Ryan Woods**.
Forwards: Benik Afobe**, Tyrese Campbell, Mame Diouf, Lee Gregory, Tom Ince, Julien Ngoy, Thibaud Verlinden, Sam Vokes.
**out on loan
While striker Hogan scored three goals in 15 appearances in red and white in the first half of the campaign, it’s with Villa’s Second City rivals Birmingham City that he’s really found form.
Villa fan favourite Chester, meanwhile, has broken into the team since the beginning of February and, although there have been some questionable defensive performances as a collective in that time, he most recently played his part in the hammering of former club Hull.
The respective situations of the pair has led pundit Robinson to believe that they still might have futures in claret and blue, particularly if the club finds itself back in the second tier.
Such a decision would leave Potters boss Michael O’Neill with another transfer decision to make in the summer.
“Any player like that you are going to stand up and take notice but I think it depends massively on what league Villa are in next year,” Robinson told Football Insider.
“Hogan is doing himself no harm, he is scoring goals at that level regularly and playing well, so it would be silly not to put him back into the ranks. The same applies to James Chester. Players that have not fitted in but gone out and done well elsewhere.
“My worry would be things behind-the-scenes – managers, players and different relationships. You do not know what has been said and why they are not in Dean Smith’s plans but I see no reason not to pull those two back into the squad.”