Unai Emery praised the versatility of Matty Cash after the Poland international’s first Aston Villa goals in over a year helped them to a 3-1 win at Burnley.
There was speculation Cash could be on his way out of Villa Park this summer, but the 26-year-old showed what an asset he can be with two goals in the opening 20 minutes of his 100th Villa appearance, twice threatening to make it a hat-trick.
Cash replaced Leon Bailey on the right wing in the only unenforced change to the Villa side that beat Hibernian 5-0 in the Europa Conference League play-off in midweek – Robin Olsen replaced the injured Emi Martinez in goal – and caught the eye with an energetic display.
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“He’s versatile, he played before as a winger, he’s playing with us in a back four sometimes, sometimes lower, but we used him in pre-season playing higher, as a winger,” Emery said.
“He helped us a lot today defensively and offensively and then he used the moment to remember when he played more at Nottingham Forest as a winger. His two goals were a good example for us but we know he can be versatile.”
That versatility can be key for Villa at a time when injuries are limiting Emery’s options. The Spaniard named only eight players, two of them goalkeepers, on the bench, and admitted Villa could be active again before the transfer window closes.
“There are still four days to finish the transfer window and we have to be ready,” Emery said. “We have to be ready in case someone is leaving, in case we have a good opportunity to add another player with us.
“Always in my teams I was working and I am ready at the end if someone can come with us or someone can leave.”
Villa’s biggest move in the market so far has been the signing of Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported £51million.
The France forward combined with Cash to create Villa’s second of the afternoon before his 61st-minute strike, his second Villa goal, settled it after Lyle Foster got Burnley back into the match.
“His adaptation is going fast but he needs this adaptation each match for him to know better his team mates and then where in our structure is his best position,” Emery said. “He is a player who is versatile as well.
“It’s very important for him and for the team, his capacity to assist, to score goals.”
Defeat leaves Burnley without a point after their opening two Premier League matches, both home defeats after the 3-0 loss to Manchester City a fortnight ago.
“Learning comes at a price in the Premier League,” manager Vincent Kompany said. “I didn’t think we started the game badly, we had moments, we just didn’t manage to get a real grip on the game and there was always the threat of Aston Villa counters.
“In the second half we built momentum, the goal helped us for that definitely, and just at the peak of that momentum we conceded the goal and that was a little bit the story of the game.”
Kompany handed a debut to Hannes Delcroix, meaning six of the starting XI were new signings this summer. The manager admitted there will be a bedding-in period.
“It’s a conscious choice,” he said. “You look at the bottom of the league and you find every flavour – teams that are settled and have not changed and teams that have changed.
“For us, we want to move forward. I’ve seen enough in our team to know that we make a game out of games. Every game there is something for us, and if that continues I believe we’ll have enough results.”