By Jonty Banks

24th Mar, 2023 | 7:30pm

Aston Villa defender Diego Carlos left red-faced after injury return ends in defeat to Bristol Rovers

When Diego Carlos was dreaming of his Aston Villa return while sidelined with a ruptured Achilles tendon, he wouldn’t have imagined it would have ended in a 3-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers.

The Brazilian centre-back, who moved to Villa Park last summer for a fee of £26million, returned to action during the international break in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Friday (24 March) against the League One side.

However, having been left red-faced by the lower-league opposition and being subbed off after 67 minutes of the contest, it is clear that Carlos should be resigned for a spot on the bench for Villa’s upcoming clash against Chelsea on Saturday, 1 April.

It was always going to take a few games for the 30-year-old to build his way back up to full fitness after rupturing his Achilles tendon back in September, and it seems like he isn’t yet ready to mount a charge on the first-team positions of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, who have both been quite superb in recent weeks.

In their last four outings in the Premier League, the pair have kept three clean sheets, with the one blemish on their cards being Said Benrahma’s penalty during the 1-1 draw at the London Stadium.

This stellar run of form has resulted in Villa not conceding an open play goal in over 300 minutes, with Gabriel Martinelli’s run-away goal on Saturday, 18 February, the last concession from open play. [WhoScored]

If Carlos were to supplant either of these two centre-backs it would be far more likely to be Konsa.

With Mings’ recent form resulting in a new long-term contract at Villa Park, his position in the starting line-up is as safe as houses right now.

And when comparing Konsa and Carlos in some key statistical areas, it is, in fact, the Englishman who comes out on top.

According to the Opta-powered stats on FBREF, the summer signing’s short pass completion success rate – something incredibly important for Emery – is inferior to Konsa’s.

Over the last year, the 30-year-old is in the 39th percentile for centre-back’s in this category (88.9%) compared to the former Brentford defender’s far superior 62nd percentile position.

Furthermore, in defence, Konsa has been an immovable object over the last calendar year, sitting in the top 1% for dribblers tackled (88.2%) and in this same elite bracket for challenges lost (0.06 per 90 minutes).

Considering these factors and Carlos’ somewhat iffy return to first-team action, it would come as no surprise to see Emery keep Carlos on the bench for the coming weeks.

In other Aston Villa news, the future of this loanee hangs in the balance as contract talks await.