A lot has been made about the ‘experienced’ players we’ve added to our squad so far this summer, with the youngest of our four signings being 29 years old. You would, therefore, be forgiven for thinking that we have an aging squad full of players who won’t be around for much longer.
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Now, it is true that our squads’ average age is 27.4 but we do have a number of exciting youth prospects in and around the squad. It is only fair that some of these young players get some recognition as we gear up for the new season.
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On the whole last season was one to forget but it was a breakthrough season for a handful of young Villans. The best of the bunch was Andre Green who was a glimmer of light in the dark months of January and February where Villa’s form was atrocious at best.
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A fearless winger who struck fear into fullbacks as he ran at them, Green went from a squad player to someone who had his name chanted by the Holte End in a matter of weeks. Unfortunately for him and Villa injury cut his season short. On the bright side, he has looked extremely sharp in pre-season and it seems he has begun to add an end product to his game. The upcoming season will be make or break for him, although all the signs indicate that we have a real player on our hands.
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Another player that I am personally very excited about is Keinan Davis. In all honesty, I hadn’t heard much about him before I saw him make his debut at Spurs away in the FA Cup defeat. Yet, immediately I was impressed by his physical attributes despite at the time him being just 18 years old. A tall and strong yet deceptively agile forward, he made his first real impact for Villa on the last game of the season against Brighton.
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He looked completely at home against a promoted back four and was a yard away from capping off his performance with a well-deserved goal. It is true that Davis isn’t at the top of the striker pecking order at Villa but that doesn’t mean he will rot away on the bench.
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This is because Davis offers us a different option up top. For all his quality, it has been abundantly clear to anyone who watched Villa last season that Scott Hogan can’t play effectively as a lone striker. This, therefore, makes Davis a viable option if and when Bruce chooses to deploy just one striker due to his strength and size.
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We have already seen that Steve Bruce has trusted Davis in pre-season and has been repaid with good performances, so it appears that we will see more of the young forward this season.
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Talking about pre-season, one of the players I was most impressed with when I was at Bescot Stadium for the 0-0 draw with Walsall was Jake Doyle-Hayes. Now I do admit that yes it was only pre- season and yes, he only came on as a substitute, but it was the little things that he did that impressed me.
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Despite playing in a team full of experienced professionals and in front of over 3000 Villa fans, he constantly wanted the ball. He didn’t go into hiding and in fact was demanding the ball off of his teammates. He’s since followed this up with another impressive performance in Germany at the recent Cup of Traditions and looks set to be a part of the first team squad this season.
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One of the worries with having a squad full of experienced pros is that the young talent such as Green, Davis and Doyle-Hayes will be unable to get any first team minutes and their talent will ultimately be wasted. I, however, don’t think that will be the case at Villa this season.
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Bruce seems to be of the school of thought that if you are good enough then you are old enough. He proved this last season with the introduction of young players into the squad such as Green and with the signing of James Bree. Another important thing is that the experienced players we have signed such as John Terry and Glenn Whelan appear to be good professionals.
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By the very fact that these players had offers to go to other clubs on more money yet chose to come to Villa proves this. They aren’t the type of player to moan about a kid taking their place in the team and further I would hope they would act as mentors to some of the youngsters. A perfect example of this would be the possible relationship between John Terry and James Bree.
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One has literally won everything there is to win and the other is a talented youngster who more than likely idolised Terry as a kid. If Bree gets a run of games playing next to Terry as a centre back / right back partnership, then he would be a fool not to
pick his brains. The same goes for Whelan and Doyle-Hayes in central midfield and Andre Green and Ahmed Elmohamady on the wings.
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This will ultimately benefit Villa long after the older players have left as we will have these young players ready to more than adequately replace them due to the tutoring I’ve discussed.
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The future at Villa Park is bright. UTV!
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