Steven Gerrard reveals why he sanctioned Matt Targett’s surprise loan move to Newcastle United

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has explained why he allowed Matt Targett to join Newcastle United on loan for the remainder of the season.

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Steven Gerrard wanted Matt Targett to stay at Aston Villa but refused to stand in his way after the player made it clear he wanted to join Newcastle United.

The 24-year-old, a loan signing for the remainder of the campaign, made his debut in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Everton that lifted the Magpies out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Targett impressed immensely on his first outing with head coach Eddie Howe stating afterwards it was like the left-back had been a part of the squad “for a number of years”.

The arrival of Lucas Digne at Villa Park was set to reduce Targett’s game time. And rather than sit on the bench, the former Southampton man was keen to play regularly.

Newcastle were only too happy to oblige after Howe made it his intention to sign a left-back to displace Jamal Lewis - left out of the club’s 25-man Premier League squad - Paul Dummett and Matt Ritchie.

‘It was Matt’s decision’

Gerrard explained: “This was his decision.

“When we were linked with Lucas (Digne), I had a conversation with Matt. I said I’d always be honest with him and I expected it back from him.

“I said if we signed a left-back, you tell me what you want. You are free to challenge a new signing who comes in – I always like two people fighting for a position.

“Matt decided he had an opportunity he wanted to pursue and that’s when the respect comes in and you don’t stand in anyone’s way.

“I would have preferred him to stay and fight as he is a really strong left-back in this league, which is why he had options.

“But I can’t stand in anyone’s way unless I can guarantee him game time that will satisfy him so that’s why it’s come about.

“Everyone needs to know it was Matt’s decision rather than him being pushed in that direction.”

Missing the next match - who plays at left-back?

Newcastle host Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon (2pm kick-off) and Targett is ineligible to face his parent club.

That will likely see either Dan Burn come in at left-back, or the versatile Javier Manquillo.

Dummett (fatigue) and Ritchie (knee) are currently out injured.

Lewis is not registered to play after being omitted from the 25-man squad along with Ciaran Clark and Isaac Hayden.