I have been asking for far too long now why Villa generally have a pretty impressive youth setup – at youth level but when it comes to turning them into first-team players we generally struggle.
Over the years we have watched several players including the Moore brothers (Stefan and Luke), Nathan Delfouneso and Callum Robinson all impress at youth levels but when it came to making the step up – they generally flopped. The later isn’t the best of examples admittedly as he is playing pretty well at the same level we currently find ourselves at with Preston North End.
But we didn’t see many Premiership clubs come swooping in for any of our youngsters once we got relegated, did we? The only solution for me is game time.
Clubs like Chelsea are often criticised for the number of players they loan out but they make a pretty good income from players who go out on loan and then sold. Villa should be looking at a similar model.
We should look to loan as many of our youth setups as possible and monitor their progress. If they get game time and impress we should look to get them climbing the levels before making a decision on whether they deserve a chance in our first team or to be sold for a profit.
Jack Grealish is a prime example for me. He went on loan to Notts County where he impressed. The winger then returned to Villa for a short period before going back to Notts County to help them fight their relegation battle despite there being interest from Championship clubs. He had a chance to continue his progress and I personally believe his desire to help his new teammates potentially affected his progress.
CURRENT YOUTH PLAYERS
A few of the current youth players were involved in the weekend defeat to Peterborough in the FA Cup. It is all good and well but we are out of the cup so we should look to loan out as many of these youth players as possible now.
Easah Suliman has been linked with a loan move with Oldham Athletic believed to be at the front of the queue. The 19-year-old defender helped England under-19’s to win the European Championship last summer – scoring the winning goal in the final.
He isn’t getting any younger and struggled in his loan spell with Cheltenham Town last season so we must see what he can do with a run of games and make a decision on his future.
Callum O’Hare has impressed at the u23 level this year and has maybe become too good for that level. It is believed that Villa is reluctant to loan out the midfielder in case we pick some injuries up in the run in. I am sorry but we can’t risk a talented youngsters future on ifs and buts. Steve Bruce either needs to give him the game time or get him a loan deal.
James Bree is a weird one for me. He impressed at Championship level with Barnsley but has failed to break into the first team since signing for Villa. We aren’t exactly short of options on the right so why is he rotting away doing nothing?
I could go on and name more youth players but at the end of the day, all of them require the same thing. Competitive first-team football regardless of the level.
Steve Round has come to the club and part of his role was to look at how we improve the youth setup, amongst other things so why are these youngsters not being given the opportunity to progress?