Keinan Davis Aston Villa Charlton Under A Gaslit Lamp

Whilst Keinan Davis and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy will likely depart on loan this season, both forwards are playing to work their way into Dean Smith’s plans this summer.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @Blogg_Matt


Keinan Davis and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy have both looked like players with points to prove so far inPpre-season, with both the forwards giving good accounts of themselves in the minutes they’ve been given.

Davis, the one of the pair with the most first team experience, was used sparingly last year due to ongoing injury issues, only making five Championship appearances. Obviously in hindsight it has proved to be the perfect decision with Aston Villa going up, but he offers so much that other strikers in our ranks lack. Maybe with the addition of Wesley this is slightly less poignant now, but his hold up play is still up there with the best at Villa, as his ability to bring other players into the game is something that any team can benefit from. 

Despite only being 21, his strength is ridiculous, allowing him to bully defenders of any stature, and when he was a more regular fixture in the side under Steve Bruce, he made telling contributions. It always goes back to the home game against Norwich in 2017 (the Conor Hourihane game). Hourihane’s hat-trick overshadows everything else, but Keinan Davis was immense, not giving the centre backs a chance and setting up Hourihane’s first goal, as well as playing a part in Green’s first Villa goal shortly after.

He will only have got better, but the problem is his position is starting to become less obvious. With only two goals in 39 first team appearances, he isn’t the man to lead our attack and score goals all season, hence why he couldn’t shift Tammy Abraham last year. With often clumsy footwork, he probably isn’t an option for the wing, although his athleticism and willingness to run does favour him here.

Arguably, Davis needs a strike partner to work with; someone to run off him and make use of his dominance in the air. Playing in the right system, Davis can be a huge asset to Villa, and that is exactly why he a) survived the cull of youth players and b) is yet to be shipped out on loan. He would undoubtedly benefit from a loan, but he can also be useful to Villa, as he’s shown so far in pre-season. He is a young player with serious potential, and even if he doesn’t get opportunities this season, he can be a massive player for us in the near future.

As can Hepburn-Murphy, who is still the youngest player to play for Villa in the Premier League. After that maiden appearance at Sunderland, a lot of people thought we were seeing the second coming of prime Gabby, a young, quick, hungry player ready to take the club by storm. After not happening thus far, this season could comfortably be the one in which he etches his name on the first team scene. After a pretty successful loan last season at Cambridge, the 20-year-old is being tipped for another loan out again, but his performance in the pre-season clash at Walsall demonstrated his sheer talent that would arguably be wasted in Leagues One or Two.

Only coming on after 70 minutes, Hepburn-Murphy was deployed at left wing and had a serious impact, cutting in, getting frequent touches on the ball, beating his man, demonstrating blistering pace and obscene skill, and was dictating the game from wide, something that even Grealish struggled to do when played there. The touch with the outside of his foot to bring down Bjarnason’s searching diagonal pass was sensational, but his inexperience showed in the subsequent hesitation to get his shot away. As a left winger he looked unbelievable, and while it was only against League Two opposition, it takes some talent to make such an impact with just 20 minutes of game time. 

As a partnership, Davis and Hepburn-Murphy would probably work well, with the bully that is Davis feeding the terrier that is Hepburn-Murphy, so it is plausible to see them working as a duo. The only issue is their inexperience could be detrimental, and with the arrivals of Wesley, Jota, Trezeguet etc, they probably don’t find themselves too far up the pecking order.

That being said, their performances in {re-season will have gone a long way to convincing Dean Smith that they deserve a chance, as the manager is likely debating their short-term future at the club, and that they are worth keeping for the season. Both players will want to play regular football, but both seem to be playing for their place in the Villa squad opposed to a squad in a lower league. They have done themselves no harm so far, and they were clearly kept on the books for a reason. Maybe this is the season that those reasons become clear.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.