This season was a gamble and it didn’t pay off. Now with loan signings such as Robert Snodgrass, Lewis Grabban and Sam Johnstone returning to their parent clubs and the club set for losses of around 55 million pounds, it’s highly unlikely Aston Villa will go on a spending spree this summer.
But it’s not all bad. While the first team fell at the final hurdle in the Championship play-offs, Aston Villa’s under 23’s have had their share of success: winning the Premier League Cup at the start of May and then the shield at the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens later that month.
Who from Aston Villa’s Youth could make an Impact Next Season?
Goalkeeper is the least likely position where Steve Bruce will blood youngsters, however, if he does Matija Šarkić would be the man to turn to. The 6-foot-3 Montenegrin is commanding in his penalty box and comfortable with crosses. However, Sarkic was limited to two FA Cup appearances during his loan at Wigan this season, and it’s unlikely he would be our starting goalkeeper without any proper lower league experience first.
In defence three names stick out who could make an impact on the first-team. Firstly Mitchell Clark, who made his debut in our 4-1 League Cup victory over Wigan in August but hasn’t featured since then. The Welsh youth international can play across the backline and might see a bit more game time next season especially if Chris Samba and Tommy Elphick follow John Terry out the door. Like Sarkic, the problem with Clark is he doesn’t have any lower league experience and would benefit from a loan move.
Two youngsters that do possess lower league experience are Jacob Bedeau and Easah Suliman. Bedeau is primarily a right back and played a handful of times for Bury before moving to Villa Park for 900k in January 2017. Out of the two, Suliman is more likely to get first-team action. The centre-back has played for England from U-16 level to U-20 and has positional sense beyond his 20 years.
Jake Doyle-Hayes is the man many Aston Villa fans are wanting in midfield. Like Clark, Doyle-Hayes played in the League Cup victory over Wigan. In Aston Villa’s current system, he would play in a defensive midfield two alongside someone like Mile Jedinak. Ideally, Jedinak would win the tackles while Doyle-Hayes would spray the passes. Jordan Lyden and Corey Blackett-Taylor could also get a run out. One of Lyden’s strengths is his versatility, while with Robert Snodgrass leaving, Blackett-Taylor could see a bit more game time next term too.
Callum O’Hare is exciting prospect for next season. The 20-year-old has appeared in four league games and got an assist for Chris Samba in our home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in this one, but surely there’s a lot more to come from him.
The good thing about O’Hare is that he can play anywhere across the midfield or up front, 10 goals in 15 Premier League 2 appearances illustrates this. A player very much in the mould of Jack Grealish, some have questioned whether he possesses the physicality to compete week in week out in the Championship, but that’s nothing a gruelling pre-season won’t sort out.
Talking of Premier League 2 goal scorers, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy scored seven in eight games in the aforementioned competition. The frontman has struggled with injuries at times this season, but Hepburn-Murphy, who possesses a quick turn of pace and is surprisingly strong for his age, should get more than the three Championship cameo appearances in last term next time around.
Keinan Davis is the biggest success story to come out of Villa’s academy in the last few years bar Jack Grealish, and the target man got two goals in four assists in 2017/18. Aston Villa’s failure to get promotion is a blessing in disguise for Davis, because at the moment the Championship seems to be his level. The former Biggleswade Town striker provides a perfect foil for Jonathan Kodjia unlike fellow striker Scott Hogan, using his body to win flick-ons and hold up the ball.
In short, financial fair play isn’t all bad. If Aston Villa do have to sell big and sell a lot, the club has got a more than stable structure to rebuild upon.