DAVID SMITH - Thursday, October 22, 2009
In an effort to gain first-team minutes, Aston Villa reserve defender Eric Lichaj has joined League Two team Lincoln City one a short-term loan deal.

"Eric has signed from Aston Villa on a one-month loan deal," Lincoln City press representative Rob Noble told YA. "He's been brought here to get some match action and see how it goes."

The Chicago native originally joined the Birmingham-based club in the summer of 2007, and has slowly worked his way through the academy to become a regular fixture in Villa's reserves.

His temporary move to Lincoln was aided by the recent appointment of former Villan Chris Sutton to the team's head coaching position, allowing for a cooperation between the clubs which has also seen English U-19 international Nathan Baker join Lichaj for the same time period.

"Our manager Chris Sutton is an ex-player for Aston Villa, so he's got good connections with the club," Noble explains.

"He is quite a new manager for us, he's only had three games at the club so far so he's looking to strengthen the team in all areas," he continues, adding "and he's identified Eric as a player that will strengthen the squad."

"He's basically taken the player on loan for one month to get him some match action, so hopefully he'll get a few games under his belt here."

While the American youth international's first-team action with Aston Villa has thus far been limited to select appearances on the bench and in pre-season friendly tours, his loan to The Red Imps is expected to immediately provide him with game experience.

"He is certainly in the squad for this weekend's game," Noble confirms. "I don't know if he'll start or not but he's in training today with the players for the first time and he'll go straight into the playing squad for this weekend."

"He can play either left or right back so hopefully he'll do alright."

The club has spent most of the past two decades in the fourth tier of the English league system, however has found the current season to be a struggle as they currently reside 19th place in the 24-team division.

Even though the summer transfer window closed at the end of August, non-Premier League clubs in English are permitted to arrange loan deals during certain time periods outside of those stipulated by FIFA, opening the door for Lichaj's spell with Lincoln.

While his current loan will terminate in late-November, the club admits that any possible extension should he impress is ultimately a decision of Villa, who still consider the defender to be a part of their future plans.

"I don't know at the moment since it's still very early," Noble admits. "I know he's very highly regarded at Aston villa so it's not sure if they would actually give a deal for him or if they want to keep him anyways."

Lichaj will have his first chance to take the field for The Red Imps on Saturday when they host 22nd-place Torquay United.
Thursday October 22, 2009 10:33 pm
Lichaj will definitely be one for the future. Its equally definite that he doesn't make the WC squad as BB doesn't tend to pick up "randoms". I know, I know he's been called up to camps before, but the only chance he really has is if Boca goes down injured and Onyewu isn't able to be back.

On a side note, supposedly Gooch's rehab will take 6 months, but I also think this is slightly exaggerated recovery time and that he will be ready closer to 4 months. They most likely are tacking on another month just to make sure Milan don't require him in full training until he is completely fit. Just a hunch from a med student, but we'll see.
i like tuesday
Thursday October 22, 2009 1:07 pm
Yes Bob, that does say left and right back.

Villa could crack the top 4 this season and will definitely be in the European places. I watched him a bit in preseason and the kid was not out of place. Villa have said he's in their plans for the not to distant future as there was rumored interest from other clubs over the summer - including an offer of a season-long loan that was rejected if memory serves. To me, a short term loan-deal with a side managed by a Villa old boy means the club want the player to have some meaningful games and see how he does with the potential for first-team opportunities at the home club depending on performance.

For me, a handful of first-team appearances for a top 6 Premiership side would put him in Spector territory at a minimum and definitely worthy of consideration.
Thursday October 22, 2009 12:39 pm
He's been called into USMNT camps before, so he's clearly on their radar. But he's not getting first team minutes. If you're a superstar for the Nats, Bradley might overlook your lack of playing time (like Gooch), but otherwise you need to be playing in meaningful games. If he can get on the field for Villa in the spring I think he might have a shot at SA given the current injury woes.
Thursday October 22, 2009 12:33 pm
just because he is highly rated doesn't mean they necessarily want to keep him. is that also the case? do villa intend to use him in the league or even in the cups in the future?
Thursday October 22, 2009 11:51 am
I'm so glad you guys are commenting on Lichaj (pronounced Lee-Hi), as I feel he will be a big player for the USMNT soon. I still am dumbfounded that this kid, despite his youth, is not considered at least for the bench for the USMNT, considering how paper-thin we are at both LB and RB. He went full 90 for Villa in the four Peace Cup games, which Villa won, against quality opponents (including a near full strength Juventus in the final, who stated they were going all out for the win and disappointed to lose), AND he's been training in one of England's finest academy/reserve sides since 2007. How can that be worse than MLS or starting in a lower league? I just don't get it.

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