Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has hinted at the possibility of Cameron Archer, Tim Iroegbunam and Kaine Kesler Hayden all staying at the club and not being loaned out this summer.
Villa are currently on a pre-season tour in Australia, and after recording back-to-back 1-0 wins over Leeds Utd and Brisbane Roar respectively, our final test Down Under comes against Man Utd on Saturday.
So far in pre-season, Villa’s youngsters have impressed when given an opportunity, and it will lead to some difficult decisions ahead for Gerrard and the club hierarchy on whether or not they loan some of these top talents out again this season or keep them with the first-team squad.
Naturally, the benefits of loaning them out and giving them a chance to gain valuable experience and playing time to develop their respective games can be a crucial part of the careers of many top players, but Gerrard has suggested that he could keep Kesler Hayden, Iroegbunam and Archer at Villa this season.
Gerrard on Kesler Hayden
“I’m delighted with Kaine, I thought he played with quality and it was his moment of quality which led to the goal,” he told BirminghamLive. “I thought his all-round game was [quality]. He did have one of them moments if you’re being ultra-critical but, yeah, I thought all the academy lads represented the club really well tonight.”
Gerrard on Iroegbunam
“Tim played with discipline, I was delighted with Tim. He’s really given me something to think about, whether to keep him in or not. But I’ll make a decision extremely late on that but, if I was under pressure now, he’d be staying in.”
Gerrard on Archer
“Cam showed everything that Cam’s about, movement, quality, could have a hat-trick but for a few good blocks but, again with Cam, if you don’t let me leave the room and I’d have to make a decision now, he’d be staying in the door.
“They really stepped forward, and what they’re doing is they’re sending messages to more experienced people that there’s a fight on from now until the game against Bournemouth… and beyond because the window is still open. They’ve given me serious things to think about and that’s the reason why I’m here.”
Given the tweaks to the schedule this season with the World Cup later in the year, Villa do face a busy fixture list in the coming months in the Premier League alone, and will hopefully have League Cup fixtures to add to that if we make a deep run.
With that in mind, Gerrard may well need to rotate and rest his players, and with the youngsters showing that they can push their more senior teammates, impress when given an opportunity and prove to be reliable options for the Villa boss, he may well think it best to keep them around.
They will also continue to learn in training sessions, have the opportunity to drop down to U23s to get playing time if necessary, and feel part of the plan moving forward. If it doesn’t work out and there is either frustration on their side or just not enough game time to go around, a loan could still be an option in January, and so it does seem like a sensible call to keep this trio in particular at the club.