Josh Onomah has long been touted as a hot prospect for the future at Tottenham Hotspur.
The midfielder made his Spurs debut as a 17-year-old in an FA Cup replay against Burnley in January 2015 and has been around the first-team setup for a couple of years, without seriously threatening to break into the side.
After winning the Under-20 World Cup with England last summer, it was decided that his development would be best served with a loan move away from Tottenham and he joined Championship Aston Villa in August.
Onomah made a promising start to life in the Midlands but over the last month or so has come in for increasing criticism from Villa fans, so it is interesting to evaluate where the Spurs youngster stands with the season now past its halfway point.
On the face of it, the Tottenham man’s record of four goals and an assist in just 15 league starts is perfectly acceptable.
Villa have spread their strikes more evenly throughout the team this season, after being accused of an over-reliance on forward Jonathan Kodjia in the last campaign.
However, despite his reasonable goal return, there is a prevailing sense that supporters are only seeing flashes of Onomah’s best football, whilst his languid style of play has led to accusations of a lack of effort.
The Tottenham man’s showing in the 3-1 FA Cup defeat to Peterborough United over the weekend was particularly poor, admittedly in a team that underperformed as a whole.
Time to ship Onomah back now. He is become as anonymous as Spurs fans said he would be and doesnt seem to want to be here. Grealish and Hourihane better, O'hare needs game time. Bring in Grujic or someone instead. #avfc
— Chrsmo (@Chrsmo) January 6, 2018
There is an expectation, though, given Onomah’s pedigree, that the Spurs man should be taking those kinds of matches by the scruff of the neck, yet this is simply not the case at present.
The Tottenham midfielder is often wasteful in the final third and whilst that might be a sign of immaturity, it is not something that the Birmingham-based outfit can afford in a promotion chase.
Despite this, there are mitigating factors that could explain why Onomah is struggling to consistently reproduce his best form.
A few niggling injuries have seen the Spurs man miss four matches across the term to date and perhaps hindered the momentum he was gaining in the early stages of the season.
The return to fitness of Jack Grealish, who turned in arguably his finest Villa performance in the recent 5-0 triumph over Bristol City, is also likely to see Onomah’s game time restricted.
The local lad is a favourite amongst the Villa fans and seems to have the bit between his teeth after a freak kidney injury saw him miss the start of the campaign.
Another element could be manager Steve Bruce’s perceived ‘long ball’ tactics, which have been frequently derided by the Championship club’s supporters.
This style of play is perhaps not conducive to getting the best out of Onomah, who is more comfortable operating between the lines with the ball at his feet – something Mauricio Pochettino preaches at Tottenham.
Overall though, the emphasis is on the 20-year-old to show an improvement in the coming weeks if he is to regain his spot in the Villa side.
There is no need for Tottenham to worry just yet; after all, Harry Kane spent three relatively innocuous spells out on loan in his early career but has shown that he is a world-class talent in the right team with quality players around him.
Onomah has the potential to play a significant role towards the business end of Villa’s season, although it increasingly seems that Grealish is now the preferred choice in the attacking midfield position.
The Tottenham youngster must therefore take his chances when they come and use his remaining time in the Midlands as a sharp learning curve, before pushing on at Spurs in the summer.