By Alan Hutton

4th Jan, 2021 | 10:00am

'Going to be Really Harsh' - Exclusive: Pundit reacts to big Aston Villa development

Ross Barkley’s return is on the horizon – but he’ll have to wait his turn to get back into the Aston Villa starting XI.

That is according to Alan Hutton, 201-time Villa right-back, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams after Ross Barkley said it was “not long” until his injury comeback.

The 27-year-old has been out of action since 21 November when he limped off in the 5th minute against Brighton after suffering a hamstring injury.

Prior to this setback, Barkley had been in fine form, scoring three goals and getting one assist in his first seven matches in a Villa shirt since signing from Chelsea on a season-long loan.

But since then Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore have stepped up, making Barkley’s reinstatement to the first-team not as straightforward as he’d like, says Hutton.

He told Football Insider: “How difficult a decision is that? It’s going to be really harsh if he comes straight back in and someone comes out.

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“But there’s a lot of games coming up and a lot of boys who’ve had a lot of minutes so you can slightly rotate.

“Do you take Traore out? Do you put El Ghazi to the right, jack to the left Barkley through the middle behind Watkins? That’s the only option which sticks out for me. But it’s very harsh.

“I think he has to stick with the same team at least until there’s a defeat. He’s going to have to wait.”

Villa have put in some impressive performances in Barkley’s absence – back-to-back 3-0 wins against West Brom and Crystal Palace being the standouts.

They sit in 7th place in the table but with a game in hand over those around them which would, if won, take them up to 4th.

In other news, a top pundit has revealed what Aston Villa stalwart Tyrone Mings needs to do if he is to secure a mega-money transfer to an elite-level club.