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Villa Reserves & Academy

Don’t Forget Young Lions Waiting in the Wings

It’s got to that time of year when all Villa fans are starting to worry that no transfers will be made at all this summer with the likes of Sunderland already having made a massive 9 additions thus far. The squad is undoubtedly in need of strengthening but one shouldn’t forget the reserves that Villa already have ready to fill in when needed.

The club has raised a fine crop of talented youngsters in recent years and new manager Alex McLeish has already stressed that all will be given a chance to prove themselves. The likes of Stephen Ireland and Warnock are set to be given fresh starts at Villa Park but there are plenty of others hungry to prove themselves at the club and that can only be a good thing.

Defensively Villa were weak last term, but McLeish has a number of willing candidates ready to step in if things continue in the same vain. The one man who is arguably already proven at that level is Ciaran Clark, who performed admirably in a number of positions last term and in my mind will be a key squad player next term. However, the young full backs at the club are also knocking on the door with Nathan Baker, Chris Herd, who is an equally capable midfielder, and Eric Lichaj all ready to make the next step up.

The American in particular made a few impressive performances for Villa last term but it was his loan spell at Leeds in which he really excelled. The Championship sides fans grew very fond of the right back who is already privy to interest from Simon Grayson to bring him back to the club. When the 22-year-old was joined by Barry Bannan on loan at the club, most Villans would have been forgiven for suggesting that the Scot would be the one to shine, but it proved otherwise and Lichaj proved a highly dependable defender during his time at Elland Road.

In midfield, raw talent readily available through the likes of Fabian Delph, Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton, while the diminutive figure of Jonathan Hogg packs a punch in the centre of the park. Concerns over the all of the above’s slight builds will be worked on in pre-season I have no doubt, after the club lost a little steel in the middle via the departure of Nigel Reo-Coker.

Up front, it seems Nathan Delfouneso has been in and around the first team for years, but it can be easily forgotten that the youngster only turned 20 this year and will no doubt be hoping for a breakthrough campaign again next term. Another striker who should not be overlooked is Andi Weimann, who returns from a profitable loan spell at Watford and will also be praying for a chance under McLeish having fallen foul of a serious injury early on last season after appearing in Villa’s first league game against West Ham.

Finally, the younger group coming through will no doubt be hoping for a couple of squad appearances so look out for midfielders Gary Gardner, Daniel Johnson and Samir Carruthers in particular and keep your chin up and support our cracking young graduates! UTV!

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