Gerrard faces key Aston Villa decision over Cameron Archer

As the countdown continues to pre-season training, Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard will face a decision over Cameron Archer for next year.

The 20-year-old enjoyed an impressive breakthrough at senior level for Villa last season, scoring four goals in two Carabao Cup outings while continuing to shine at youth level as he displayed a real talent and instinct for finding the back of the net.

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A decision was made in January that he would benefit from a loan spell elsewhere to gain more minutes and experience, and he earned that at Preston North End in the season half of the campaign.

Archer added seven goals in 20 Championship appearances, and as he continued to impress for England U21s over the past week with more goals, it remains to be seen what the future holds for him.

Will Villa keep Archer in the squad or loan him out again?

The first step seems clear in that Gerrard will take a closer look and assess Archer when the squad reports for pre-season training, and at that point the Villa boss can make a better judgement on whether or not the talented youngster has a role to play for us this year or not.

If the answer to that is yes, then Archer will undoubtedly benefit from training alongside the likes of Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings, soaking up plenty of knowledge and taking as much as he can from the experience, while simultaneously trying to displace them in the starting line-up and showing his ability at the top level when given an opportunity.

In contrast, if Gerrard believes that Archer still needs regular playing time to enhance and develop his qualities, then a loan move also makes sense and it’s hoped that it will be a key stage in his development to becoming a first-team player for us in the near future.

Ultimately, Villa have a top talent on their hands in Archer and if he continues on his current path, there seems to be little doubt that he will have a role to play for us moving forward. It’s important though that we manage his career properly, make the best decisions for him and for the club, and eventually reap the rewards of another talented youngster coming through the club’s youth ranks with several top prospects in a similar position this year.

Archer has shown over the past 12 months that he’s a natural goalscorer. Those are becoming harder to find in the modern-day game with an emphasis on having to be more of an all-rounder. If he can improve other areas of his game and give Gerrard no choice but to keep him amongst the senior Villa squad, it’s hoped we see him shine next season and beyond.