Aston Villa youngster Kaine Kesler has revealed his ambition over the pre-season schedule and who offers him advice in the senior squad.
The 18-year-old was part of the impressive side that won the FA Youth Cup last season, and there is little doubt that the defensive ace is one of the top prospects from that group.
Predominantly a right-back, it remains to be seen if he gets a chance under Dean Smith this season given Matty Cash’s presence as first-choice and the return of Frederic Guilbert from his loan spell, as competition for a starting spot is tough.
Nevertheless, with squad depth needed as Villa look to compete at the top level and challenge for a top six finish in the Premier League as well as domestic silverware, Kesler could yet receive an opportunity to impress at senior level.
For now though, his focus is solely on pre-season and using any playing time he gets to catch Smith’s attention and earn a place in the squad this year, albeit he is realistic and humble enough to accept that a loan move isn’t out of the question.
Kesler on pre-season aim, senior Villa players who offer him advice
“Depending on how this pre-season goes that will determine how my season is; whether that’s a loan or being involved in the first team. That’s up to the gaffer, really,” he told VillaTV. “It’s going to be a big pre-season trying to impress the gaffer. That’s the most important thing, trying to be amongst the team, training and impressing.
“I’m learning from the (first-team players), grabbing people for conversations; the gaffer, JT and the players and learning from them and that’s what I’m trying to do.
“Ez (Konsa) gives really good advice about defending and, if ever I need asking about advice he gives it me. Fred (Guilbert), who obviously plays in my position, he does as well.
“I’ve got to impress, get my fitness back and to play well, train hard and just getting my head down to impress (the coaches). That’s it. I’ve got to show my ability and what I’ve got and what I can provide for the team and how I can help throughout the season.”
Loan move the right decision for Kesler from Villa?
On one hand, a loan exit could help his development significantly as he’ll benefit from regular playing time and a chance to improve his overall game.
However, he could also benefit from training with the senior Villa squad consistently and developing that way, but only if there will be opportunities for him to put what he learns into action on the pitch.
Time will tell how the situation plays out, but Kesler will be looking to showcase his quality in pre-season, and perhaps a decision will be taken after as to whether or not he stays this year or is loaned out for the season.