Over the years Villa has had many youth players to break through the academy and go on to be successful at a professional level, most notably Gareth Barry and Gabriel Agbonlahor.
But who could be the next to break into the first team and make a claim for better things? Here are five youth players who could break through and potentially be Aston Villa greats in the future.
Suliman is one of the youth setups who I believe should have already have been given an opportunity with the first team. The 20-year-old defender has featured for England at every level apart from under-21s and senior team, showing that he does have experience at youth tournament level.
Having only played 9 minutes for the first team, Suliman got sent out on loan to Grimsby Town in January to give him more game time, using some valuable experience to break into the Villa team next season. Unfortunately, Suliman has struggled to make an impact while out on loan, only playing 2 games for Grimsby, one being a 5-minute appearance off the bench.
Lyden is the current captain of the under-23 side and is the oldest player on the list, aged 22. The Australian midfielder broke onto the scene in the 2015-16 season but has failed to make the step up from youth to the first team, partly down to injury issues.
The midfielder has featured twice this season, both from the bench in the Carabao Cup. The young leader has managed to show how he can score goals this season, scoring some important ones in the youth league. His best position is central defensive midfield but can operate in defence and a bit further forward. The Perth born player can definitely break into the team in my eyes and can be a future captain for us providing he can stay fit.
McKirdy was scoring for fun the under-23 side with some supporters calling for him to be given a chance in the first team but in January he was loaned out to Crewe Alexandra.
That was not his first taste of professional football though, being loaned out to Stevenage in 2016 making 11 league appearances scoring 1 goal as a striker. At Crewe, he has scored 3 in 16, proving a good impact substitute for the Railwaymen.
I would expect McKirdy to make some appearances off the bench next season as he seems to be doing that role well for Crewe at the moment but he would have to get his career off the ground with Villa soon as he turned 21 last month and is slowly growing out of the academy.
It feels like Hepburn-Murphy has been around for a long time now but he is still 19. He has been spoken about for many years by older players in the first team but has still failed to start a game for Steve Bruce’s side.
Just like Lyden, injuries have affected his progress but he has still made 5 appearances from the bench so far this season. Although he hasn’t scored for the first team, he has impressed during his appearances and has also done well at youth level.
The striker has a massive talent but he needs to really step up and make a claim for first team football now.
O’Hare is my favourite player on this list due to his form for the youth team. I find it hard to see why he doesn’t play more for the first-team as he is an amazing player to have and could turn into a superstar.
At 19, nearly 20, O’Hare needs to start playing more first-team football to prevent it holding him back in the future. He has yet to start for Villa but is often compared to another youth graduate, Jack Grealish. The midfielder was also named the best academy player of the season earlier this week.
That concludes my list of the 5 academy players to look out for next season. Who else should I have had on this list, Corey Blackett-Taylor? Mitch Clark? Jacob Bedeau? Share your thoughts!