Well, acknowledging the Villa youth first, would be a start. An Aston Villa academy player, left the club for a fee of £100,000,000. He goes by the name of Jack Grealish. That's kind of all I have to say to grab your attention.
2015, the year where we really thought our academy was going somewhere... Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Callum O'Hare, Jake Doyle-Hayes, Andre Green all thriving at a youth level for the Villans. So where did it go wrong for the prospects? The form of the Aston Villa first-team. This was the season where it all went wrong for Aston Villa as a club. Not only the poor performances on the pitch, but the division, toxicity and fan protests, really did put a halt to young players development. It affected the performances of everyone. This is where the downfall started for these players.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, who is now playing in the top division in Cyprus, for football club, Pafos FC. he has made a total of 23 appearances for them since leaving Villa back in July 15, 2020; scoring 5 goals. It's sad to see a downfall of a player who was highly thought of at Villa. Especially by me! Hope to see Rushian back at his best soon, he's still only 23 years old.
Callum O'Hare, despite being one of Aston Villa's brightest prospects at the time, Callum left the club on a free transfer back in July 2020. He joined Coventry City. He has, to be fair to him, made a name for himself in the Championship. This season alone, he has managed to get himself 9G/A. He is a fan favourite at Coventry, his style of play, and his personality caught on with the fans straight away. He recently signed a contract extension with Coventry back on January 7th, 2022. Glad to see he's doing well, and maybe playing in the Premier League soon!
Andre Green, after a disappointing spell at Sheffield Wednesday is now playing football in Slovakia, and Jake Doyle-Hayes is now playing regular football at Hibernian in Scotland.
For a few of these players it's lucky to even be at a club, let alone regular minutes.
The NSWE era, not did they save the club. They have invested massively in the youth academy. I can safely say, we are one of the Top 5 academies, in England right now. We are seeing some of the best youth talents coming through the ranks at Bodymoor in a long long time. Just to name a few, Cameron Archer, Carney Chukwuemeka, Jacob Ramsey, Tommi O'Reilly, Tim Iroegbunam, Aaron Ramsey, Louie Barry. I could go on all day! Not only are they 'up and coming' these players are also getting their taste of Premier League/ First-team football.
Villa's attacking players, are the ones to go straight onto Gerrard's, 'one to watch' list, but we have to admire the work of the defensive players aswell, Joshua Feeney, Kerr Smith, Hayden Lindley. I have to say, Hayden Lindley has to be one of the most mature/composed young players I've seen for Villa, the way he calmly sprays the ball around while being able to command a goal-hungry side, is quite outstanding. The captain of the U23'S, and he is yet to get his chance to experience first-team football. Lindley however, did play 5 minutes in Villa's 0-6 demolishment of Barrow. Villa U23'S have leaked alot of goals in the 21/22 PL2 season, but we have to realise the fact that a lot of players are out on loan, and it is a side full up of U18'S as well. Lindley deserves credit for this, Hope it is not too long until he gets a chance. A real leader.
ANOTHER young star that I haven't mentioned yet, is young full back, Kaine Kesler-Hayden. He started his 21/22 campaign out on loan at Swindon Town. However, he performed so well, new manager Steven Gerrard decided to recall him, and send him out two League One's MK Dons. They are currently fighting for promotion to the Championship, and Kaine has played his part in the short time he has been there. A young, Fast, Composed player is just what Gerrard is looking for to give Matty Cash competition. He already has got a MOTM award at a senior level after an amazing game against Liverpool in the FA Cup back in 2021.
Yes, I am still going... Surely, we cant forget this man... Louie Barry, the young lad who scored THAT goal against Liverpool. He has been tearing it up for the U23'S, and after a torrid time on loan at Ipswich, Gerrard decided to loan out the young lad to Swindon Town, he started his Swindon career very well, scoring goals and getting assists, and his overall play being magnificent. But an injury set him back a couple of weeks, and he has only just made his return to the side. Keep pushing Louie!
Last but not Least, the main man. Jacob Ramsey. This is a lad we can call our STARBOY. Come through the ranks at Villa, and is a Villa Fan born and bred. This boy BLEEDS Claret and Blue. Hard work does pay off, this is a kid playing alongside players like Phillipe Coutinho. Ramsey may be playing alongside a big name such as Coutinho, but he has still managed to grab the headlines over him, this shows how good and big of a talent he is. Playing 28 games, and managing to grab 7 G/A, in his first proper season. Also to point out he is now working under a legend such as Steven Gerrard, who is going to improve his game massively. Improvements have already showed for Ramsey, not only on the attacking front, but defensively aswell, he really has matured in his all round game. This lad is only going to get better and better. HE'S ONE OF OUR OWN!
There is plenty more youth prospects in this squad, but there is also a downside to having so much talent. Keep an eye out on the @TheAVFCFaithful twitter account for Part 2. UTV!
Written by Kian Davies.