Aston Villa manager Dean Smith

Alan Hutton has admitted he “feels sorry” for Conor Hourihane after his lack of game time at Aston Villa this season.

The former Villa and Scotland defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, has suggested that the Republic of Ireland international will be “knocking down” Dean Smith’s door to be given his chance in the starting XI.

The 29-year-old started the opening two Premier League games of the season but has been left as an unused substitute for the last four top-flight matches by Smith.

After winning their opening four games, the Villans have lost 3-0 to Leeds United and 4-3 to Southampton.

Hutton has admitted that he cannot see Smith making too many changes against Arsenal but suggested that Hourihane may deserve a chance.

Hutton told Football Insider: “I feel sorry for Conor, he’s come in through the years and he’s always done well, he’s always produced good performances but then been left out of the team.

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“He’s probably the main one at the moment that will be desperate to get onto that pitch, I can imagine him knocking down the manager’s door: ‘I want an opportunity now, I’ve bided my time, it’s my turn now.’ 

“You never know, he might try and switch it up but I’m not sure, going to Arsenal, he’ll want to make too many changes.” 

Hourihane has played just three times for Villa this season, with two starts in the league and one substitute appearance in the League Cup.

He has the likes of John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ross Barkley and Marvelous Nakamba for competition in the middle of the park.

In other Aston Villa news, Alex McLeish left raving as Smith hints at new contract for senior star.