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.