Paul Merson : Aston Villa striker is likely to be sold

Ex-Villa forward can see an attacker being shown the door.

Aston Villa will let one of their strikers leave in an end-of-season shake-up, former attacker Paul Merson has predicted.

The one change for Villa in today’s Premier League clash at home to Watford came up front, where Ollie Watkins made way for Danny Ings, after six games without a goal.

Ings was in the middle of a front three, with Emi Buendia and Philippe Coutinho, the latter on loan from Spanish giants Barcelona, either side.

Merson, who was at Villa Park from 1998 to 2002, reckons that quartet will not be intact by the end of the summer, when manager Steven Gerrard’s squad revamp continues.

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday programme, Merson said: “Ollie Watkins, to me, is like Emile Heskey was. Emile was an unbelievable player for the team.

“Watkins has got to get back to scoring goals regularly, that his job. The rest of the centre-forwards are more creative.

“I think one of them will get moved on, but I don’t know who. If Coutinho carries on doing what he has been doing, Villa fans will make sure that the club sign him.

“You’ve got three players in Ings, Emi Buendia and Philippe Coutinho, who really want to provide for others. Ings is also a goalscorer and he, for me, is top-drawer.

“Sometimes, you go to other places and it doesn’t suit the way you play. Watkins likes playing up front on his own, so he can run anywhere.

“I don’t mean that in a horrible way, because he works across the line. When you have two in attack, some people are not used to doing that.”

The worst run of form of Gerrard’s managerial career has left him with food for thought, after three months in charge.

Merson pulled no punches in his assessment of Villa and singled out defender Tyrone Mings, who started again today, for criticism.

He said: “You have got to remember that Villa sacked a very good manager in Dean Smith (left on November 7).

“They are a great club, don’t get me wrong, but the team have been inconsistent for years.

“One minute they are up here, the next they are down here. You have got to get consistency and that’s been the problem for Villa. Defensively, I don’t think they have been good enough.

“They don’t keep enough clean sheets and are all over the place, at times, so that needs to turn around, but I’m sure they will stay up.

Paul Merson is left dejected after hitting the bar in injury-time.

“Tyrone Mings has been poor, if I’m honest, and he’s the culprit for a lot of the goals they have let in recently. Steven Gerrard might have to pull him out of the team, in my opinion.

“He might be the one that could need to be left out, for a game or two. I think he’s been really struggling for form.

“Steven, like Frank Lampard (Everton boss) will be watching all of these players, like who can play on at home, or away, and who gets on the ball when the shackles are already off.

“He’s got a lot of work to do. He’s come into Villa and he’s a winner, who wants to make sure this team are fighting for a Europe, next season, not to be in the bottom half of the table.”