By Anthony Onifade

14th Aug, 2023 | 9:10pm

Pau Torres now faces biggest test of career at Aston Villa after Tyrone Mings injury development

Aston Villa have confirmed that star defender Tyrone Mings will be out for an extended period after a worrying injury against Newcastle and Pau Torres could now be thrown into the deep end at Villa Park.

The 30-year-old England international was carried off on a stretcher during Villa’s 5-1 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday (12 August) with what looked like a serious knee injury.

It is the second serious injury for a Villa player in the space of a week after midfielder Emi Buendia was ruled out for up to eight months with a knee ligament injury sustained in training.

It remains to be seen definitively how long the England international will be out of action, but what’s guaranteed is that Aston Villa have been dealt a serious blow in their quest to progress both domestically and in their new Europa Conference League adventure, set to take place on Thursday 24 August.

The former Bournemouth defender had proven a crucial much-needed component under Unai Emery’s management, proving why he was touted as arguably the best centre-back outside the top six in the Premier League.

Only the top four clubs (Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United) conceded fewer goals than Villa’s 46, as per the official Premier League website.

Mings formed an exceptional pairing with Ezri Konsa, and Emiliano Martinez behind them in between the sticks, trendsetting Villa’s game under Emery and ensuring they emerged as one of the league’s surprise packages by the time it ended.

But while Mings’s composure and confidence on the ball were key, he still, of course, had to carry out his defensive duties expertly.

And he did just that, with the centre-back recording more interceptions (54) than any other defender during the 2022/23 Premier League season, as per the official Aston Villa Twitter account.

But his immense defensive efforts were not limited to just interceptions, with Mings making 158 clearances and 89 headed clearances. As per the official Premier League website, those tallies were enough to place him in the top five of those two categories.

These are stats which prove Mings’ vital importance to the Aston Villa cause right now and his absence reared an ugly head as Newcastle ran riot so soon after he was stretchered off.

The Villans lost all leadership, defensive discipline and solidity without Mings, which certainly meant new summer signing Torres endured a rather difficult and disappointing debut.

During his 59 minutes on the pitch, Torres won just three of his total duels and gave away two fouls [SofaScore] whilst struggling to form an understanding with Konsa at the heart of the Villa defence.

However, it was only the Spaniard’s first Premier League outing which was perfectly understandable but with Mings’ new injury, it now seems as if the room and time for the Spaniard to properly acclimatise himself and get used to the rigours of the English top-flight just got desperately smaller.

No doubt about it, the former Villarreal man is an experienced European-quality-level defender, one certainly possessing the characteristics and mentality to thrive immediately at Villa Park.

Torres was a key player for Villarreal last season, making 39 appearances as the club finished fifth in La Liga to secure Europa League football. He, in total, made 173 appearances for his boyhood team, scoring 12 times, and played 23 times for Spain before making the move to England meaning he is very well capable of immediately replacing Tyrone Mings.

And his stats from last season prove as much, given the Spanish international knows Emery’s playing style to a tee. Torres averaged 4.1 clearances, 1.7 aerial wins and 1.3 tackles per game last season in La Liga [WhoScored] proving a real rock at the heart of Villarreal’s defence, but he equally has an eye on making a positive impact driving forward from deep which Emery is trying to incorporate in the West Midlands.

The 26-year-old ranked in the 99th percentile for progressive carries and the 97th percentile for successful take-ons, showcasing his incredible class and qualities when playing out of the back, or even possessing the ability to evade high pressure from onrushing attackers.

Emery trusts in his ability and it’s why Aston Villa shelled out £45m to sign him, but despite his experience and established qualities, it’s clear Torres will now be thrown into the deep end at Villa Park. Whether he can immediately come in and make a telling impact alongside Konsa is another matter entirely.

This may well be Torres’ biggest test in his career to date.

In other Aston Villa news, the club have a crucial decision to make on one bright academy teenager who looks ready for first-team exposure this season.