With eight Premier League games remaining this season, Aston Villa boss Dean Smith could be tempted to give opportunities to some of the club’s youngsters.
Villa have struggled over the last three months both in terms of performances and results, as having had hopes of European qualification not long ago, the focus is now seemingly switching to just securing a top-half finish.
It’s hoped that we can find a way to arrest our slide and finish the campaign on a positive note, and the return of captain Jack Grealish will no doubt help with that significantly.
However, he remains sidelined for now, as do Trezeguet, Wesley and Morgan Sanson, thus leaving Smith with a lack of options in the final third in particular.
With our top-flight status secured, there is surely a strong argument in favour of Smith freshening things up, bringing some of our promising youngsters into the first-team squad and look to integrate them into the set-up ahead of next season.
Four names in particular stand out as they continue to showcase their talent to warrant consideration.
The 18-year-old right-back loves to get forward and has five goals and two assists in 18 appearances so far this season.
Particularly with Ahmed Elmohamady’s contract set to expire this summer, we need to find depth behind Matty Cash. Rather than spend money in the transfer market, if we potentially have a homemade solution already at the club, it’s worth taking the time now to see if Kesler can make the step up.
That’s not to suggest that he should displace Cash in the starting XI as our summer recruit has been superb this season, but Kesler could be a candidate to be on the bench in the upcoming games to be ready for an opportunity.
There is real excitement over the 17-year-old as to how good he could be in the future, with The Times noting that CEO Christian Purslow hasn’t been shy in giving him rave reviews already by suggesting he’s the most talented player in his age group in the country.
The central midfielder has one goal and four assists in 18 games this year, but it’s his all-round quality and influence in both phases of the game which are earning more attention.
Physical, athletic but with the intelligence and understanding to go with it, Chukwuemeka looks a proper talent and if we don’t see him this season, there is a sense that we will see a lot more of him in the future.
Fresh from being named PL2 Player of the Month for March, the 18-year-old is continuing to show that he’ll be giving his brother, Jacob, a run for his money over who will make a bigger impact at Villa.
11 goals and four assists in 21 games this season show that he knows how to produce in the final third as an attacking midfielder, and so he could be in line to join his sibling in the senior squad sooner rather than later.
As with all four names on this list, Villa will look to develop them at the right pace and not rush them to risk ruining that process, but it will be exciting to see Ramsey alongside his brother at some stage.
He’s had quite the young career already having had a brief spell at Barcelona, and the 17-year-old is showing why the Catalan giants acquired him having bagged 12 goals and two assists in 17 outings this year.
Fresh from scoring a hat-trick in our FA Youth Cup game against Burton Albion this week, the youngster also made the headlines with his goal for the senior side against Liverpool in the FA Cup earlier in the season.
Similarly to his teammates mentioned above, Barry is another who could add a fresh impetus to the side if he were to get a call-up from Smith to give us another option in attack, and so it’s hoped that we’ll get another glimpse of him before the season is over.
A special performance. 😍
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) April 14, 2021