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Aston Villa youngster Clark could help solve Smith's defensive shortage in January

Steve Bruce left Dean Smith an Aston Villa squad short on defensive options and that is something the former Brentford boss will surely be keen to rectify when the transfer window opens next month.

Smith must explore all the options available to him as he seeks to put together a defence good enough to give his electric attacking options a good enough foundation to go on and secure promotions.

One of those options is young defender Mitch Clark; he is on loan from Villa to Port Vale at the moment, but the Birmingham Mail report Smith went along to watch his performance for the Under 23s side against Stoke last night.

They also claim that Clark has a recall clause in his loan deal with Vale – for whom he has made 21 appearances so far this season – which can be activated next month.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

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Clark would not expect to be a first choice in a promotion bid but he can play all across the back four and would be a handy option given how light Villa are in defence.

Villa’s financial situation is complicated and if Smith can bolster his options without spending a penny, it’s an option worth exploring.

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