By Jonty Banks

14th Mar, 2023 | 2:10pm

Tim Iroegbunam can challenge Leander Dendoncker at Aston Villa after adding goals to his game

Aston Villa loanee Tim Iroegbunam looks to have added a crucial goalscoring knack to his game that could help force his way into Unai Emery’s proceedings at Villa Park next season.

The 19-year-old has been a standout player for QPR this term since taking his trade from the pitches at Bodymoor Heath to the furnace of the Championship, but hadn’t found the back of the net until a recent purple patch in form.

Having not scored a goal in professional football until the past few weeks, questions were starting to arise about whether Iroegbunam was a one-dimensional player and struggled to offer an attacking output from the middle of the park.

However, the midfielder has silenced these critics in quite some style and is now in line to pile the pressure on Leander Dendoncker as Villa’s backup midfielder next season.

In Neil Critchley’s last game at Loftus Road before being sacked – a 3-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers – the Aston Villa academy product found the back of the net, and he was on hand again to score the match winner last Saturday (11 March) against Watford.

Iroegbunam has certainly had a tumultuous loan spell at the London club, with the youngster having to play under three separate managers and an interim boss, but now hopefully, under Gareth Ainsworth, he can continue to add more goals to his game.

Although Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz are pretty untouchable in Unai Emery’s midfield right now and will be hard to displace next season, there isn’t too much depth behind them.

Dendoncker is currently the third-choice central midfielder at the club, but Iroegbunam certainly has more than enough aces up his sleeve to leave Emery with a tough decision.

The Belgian international has the added bonus of vast amounts of Premier League experience as well as his ability to drop into centre-back, but his attacking limitations are clear for all to see – having scored just three Premier League goals over the last two and a half seasons.

If Iroegbunam can continue to pop up in the final third with match-deciding goals, he will stand a fair chance of getting a run-out at Villa Park next season, and possibly at the expense of Dendoncker.

In other Aston Villa news, Danny Mills was completely wrong about a ‘terrible’ Villa player after his recent transformation under Unai Emery.