Opinion

The Future: Teenagers Pushing For The First Team

Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Mitchell Grimes (@mitchell_grimes)

There isn’t much to be positive about as a Villa fan at the moment, at the time of writing this article we sit 18th, 5 games in to the season, not quite time to panic yet but still not very promising. One thing we can be positive about however is the current amount of young players ready to make a mark on the first team squad. Below are short summaries of the teenagers who are starting to have an impact on the first team.

James Bree

Signed for Villa in last season’s January transfer window from Barnsley, James Bree is one of the most promising young defenders at the club. Prior to Villa, Bree had been at Barnsley since age 14 and made his professional debut for the club in 2014, becoming the second youngest player ever to feature for Barnsley at 16 years and 143 days old.
He’s only made a handful of appearances for villa so far being slightly behind Hutton in the pecking order and with Ritchie De Laet returning from injury he may find it difficult to break into the first team this season at right back. Although he put in a solid performance recently in the Carabao Cup with a strong challenge leading to Villa’s second goal against Colchester.

When Bree has played he’s been good in the air, comfortable on the ball and calm under
pressure. He’s not afraid to get forward with his pace and try to create, with great crossing and the ability to pick out a pass with some seeing the potential for him to possibly move into midfield. He’s drawn comparisons to fellow ex-Barnsley player John Stones.

Jacob Bedeau

Bedeau was let go by Leyton Orient at age 16 however 6 months later Villa beat Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool to the young man’s signature.
After being let go by his childhood club, he was handed a trial by League One side Bury.
After putting in a good performance in his trial match he was offered a contract.
With Bury being hit by injuries, Bedeau was given several opportunities in the first team and was playing League One football at just 16, playing on much more experienced and physical forwards but he didn’t look out of place at all.

Bedeau is tall defender who remains composed under pressure and is a commanding physical presence, he is good in the air and positions well for interceptions.

Easah Suliman

Suliman, only 19, has already accomplished a great deal in football. He was the first player with Asian heritage to captain any England XI, he was an integral part of the squad which won the Euro U19 Championships, and he also scored the opening goal in the final for that competition.

Suliman is a strong and classy defender, who is good enough to be able to play himself out of trouble. He’s a big set piece threat, which he showed in that Euro final and is very calm and composed with the ball at his feet for someone so young. Suliman primarily plays at centre back but can play on the left side of the defence or even move into centre midfield if required.

Corey Blackett-Taylor

Blackett-Taylor made his debut last season when he replaced Neil Taylor in a 1-0 loss to
Huddersfield. Blackett-Taylor is a pacey wide-man with silky skills and a nice delivery who’s been with villa since the age of 9. Blackett-Taylor usually plays on the right but if versatile enough to be used on the left if needed.

He is known for his power, strength and ability on the ball making him a very difficult for the defence to contain. He seems himself as a similar style player to fellow academy graduate Andre Green, and draws inspiration from how Andre has cemented himself in the first team squad.

For what it’s worth Steve Bruce has also been known to rate Blackett-Taylor very highly.

Andre Green

Andre Green signed for Villa aged 9, graduating through the academy and became the 4th youngest ever player to play for Villa when he made his first team debut in 2016 coming off the bench in the 2-0 loss to Tottenham.

Green is a pacey winger who has been used on the left for Villa in all his appearances for the first team so far but has previously played as a centre-forward for youth teams. Green is best known for his pace and skills and ability to beat a man but is currently lacking end product which is starting to frustrate some fans although he did score a wonderful goal against Norwich the other week.

Green has a very impressive physical presence for a 19 year old, rarely getting outmuscled by more experienced championship defenders. Most Villa fans get very excited by the prospect of Andre Green and the player he can become, but if he starts adding goals and assists to his threatening runs sooner rather than later, any doubt over his ability will be thrown out the window.

Callum O’Hare

Callum O’Hare has been with the club since age 7 and has only just recently made a name for himself at Villa with impressive performances in pre-season and more recently making his first team debut against Colchester in the Carabao Cup.

O’Hare plays mostly as a no. 10 but has been used upfront and in central midfield for the
youth sides. He’s light on his feet and is described as one of the more technically gifted
players to come through the academy and is composed and smart, which he showed with his clever ball to Andre Green in the build up to Villa’s first goal against Colchester.

O’Hare may be small but he doesn’t shy away from physicality and doesn’t mind getting stuck in. O’Hare also has a bit of flair and confidence in his ability, he’s not afraid to try a fancy flick or shoot from range given the opportunity. Against Colchester he tried his heart out and didn’t stop running which is more than what we’ve been able to say about a lot of players who have been at the club in the past few years.

O’Hare could be the breath of fresh air this squad needs and would hopefully be able to fix the disconnect we have currently between the midfield and attack.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy

Like many players on this list, Hepburn-Murphy has been at Villa since he was just a boy.

He made history when he became the youngest ever player to feature for the club in the premier league era, making his debut at just 16 years and 176 days when he came on for super Christian Benteke in March 2015.

Since then Hepburn-Murphy hasn’t featured all too much for the first team, having been
injured on and off for most of that time which is a shame because if there’s one thing Villa have been lacking it’s goals.

Hepburn-Murphy’s strength is exactly that, goals. He’s scored goals consistently at every
level he’s played at, he is a natural goal scorer. Combine Hepburn-Murphy’s eye for goal
with his pace and strength and he a potentially devastating striker on our hands, he just needs to keep himself fit.

Keinan Davis

Davis was released from Stevenage at age 15 and was signed by Villa in 2015 from
Biggleswade Town. Davis came into the first team picture last season when contract
negotiations between the club and Hepburn-Murphy were taking longer than expected.

Davis took his chance and was given his chance, making his debut against Tottenham in the FA cup last season. Davis has been praised by former coaches for his attitude and work ethic, often having to make it to training by foot. His strengths include very strong hold up play, being able to bring others in to play and his power and strength.

Davis has impressed on the few opportunities he has been given so far and although he is now the most likely of all of the above to be featured in the first team.

 

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