Dean Smith must hand Matt Targett his first Aston Villa start in Friday night’s Premier League showdown against Everton, according to Noel Whelan.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Leeds United and Coventry City striker explained his surprise at the left-back’s omission from the starting XI for the first two rounds of league matches.

Dean Smith opted to start Neil Taylor on the left side of defence even though the club spent £14million rising to a potential £17million to prise Targett from Southampton during the summer window.

The 23-year-old was an unused substitute for the defeats to Tottenham and Bournemouth as Taylor surprisingly got the nod ahead of him.

“It’s really strange,” Whelan told Football Insider. “Targett has really good Premier League experience and been signed to strengthen a position that needed strengthening.

“Who not play him straight him away? I would definitely play him against Everton. The kid is fit and that’s why they spent all that money on him. Put him in.”

Former England Under-21 international Targett ended his 15-year association with Southampton after graduating from the youth ranks to make 63 Premier League appearances for the club.

He also had a successful spell on loan at Fulham when they were promoted from the Championship and was a key man in their play-offs triumph.

In other Aston Villa news, Football Insider can reveal that the club are in talks over agreeing a deal with a promising attacker.