Dean Smith rung the changes as Aston Villa thumped Crewe 6-1 in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night to book their place in the next round.
A number of summer signings, who were yet to feature this season, played against the League Two side, as a number of familiar faces also returned to the starting fold.
That win on the road meant that Villa will now meet fellow Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion in the next round.
Nonetheless, here we will take a look at three things we learned from Villa’s comprehensive victory in the EFL Cup:
Nakamba and Konsa impress on debut: The Villa supporters have been waiting for Marvelous Nakamba to make his debut for the club, and it is fair to say that he didn’t disappoint the fans. Whilst he didn’t get on the scoresheet, he looked lively in the middle of the park and he had a couple of tricks up his sleeve. There’s no doubt that the Premier League is Villa’s priority, and whilst that is the case, Dean Smith needs his back-up players to be knocking on the door, so they can build competition from within the squad. And Nakamba showcased his worth.
Another player that was making his first appearance for the club was centre-back Ezri Konsa, who moved from Brentford in the summer. He opened the scoring in the opening four minutes and looked solid beside Kortney Hause. It will be difficult for him to dislodge either Tyrone Mings or Bjorn Engles at the back, but he has shown that he has promise.
But it didn’t go well for all the summer signings: Whilst certain debutants impressed on the night, left-back Matt Targett struggled during his time on the pitch. Defensively he looked off-colour as he kept conceding chances from out wide. Despite the convincing 6-1 scoreline, Crewe could argue that they should have scored in the opening half, but it wasn’t to be.
In the end, the former Southampton man was substituted just before the break because of an injury, with his replacement, Fred Guilbert, getting on the scoresheet later on in the game. But supporters will look at the positive because it is only one game and they will be patient with their new players.
Remember Henri Lansbury? Ever since Lansbury moved to Villa Park in 2016, he has been hit with injury after injury after injury. It wouldn’t have surprised many if he had been shipped out in the summer, but Smith showed faith in the player.
On the night, he provided three assists for his teammates, including a clever backheel for Jack Grealish. It is a stark reminder for Smith that he can break into Villa’s starting XI and showcase to the Villa fans what he’s about. It could be argued that his biggest test will be trying to stay out of the treatment room.