By Amir Mir
Joleon Lescott has been demoted to the Aston Villa second string after being told he can find a new club by manager Roberto Di Matteo.
The former England international was named on Monday afternoon in the starting XI for Villa Under-23s in their clash against Midland rivals Wolves.
Lescott played 66 minutes for Villa then was replaced by youngster Johan Abdoul with the score at 0-0.
The match was taking place behind closed doors at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training headquarters.
Lescott has not featured in the club’s match day squad for their three games against Sheffield Wednesday, Luton Town and Rotherham this season.
Di Matteo has previously stated that Lescott can leave the club, with the Championship side willing to offload the player on a free transfer, despite the central-defender having one-year remaining on his contract.
The much-criticised defender made a £1.5 million switch from Midland rivals West Brom last summer, but endured a woeful season as his side were relegated from the Premier League.
Di Matteo has purchased two defenders this summer, with Tommy Elphick making a £3 million switch from Bournemouth and James Chester signing a four-year contract from West Brom.
This has seen Lescott fall further down the pecking order, with the likes of Leeds previously showing interest in his services.
Goalkeeper Jed Steer started in goal for Villa against Wolves, while versatile midfielder Jordan Lyden made a return from injury, with the club’s youngster ever Premier League player Rushian Hepburn-Murphy starting up front.
In other Aston Villa team news, owner Tony Xia has revealed the club are to announce a new signing after the Huddersfield game.