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Aston Villa fans baffled by Steve Bruce’s risky Rushian Hepburn-Murphy move

The 19-year-old was a shock substitution by Aston Villa in yesterday’s Bolton defeat.

Mathew Nash

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Aston Villa’s automatic promotion hopes look to be over. Following on from their shock 3-1 loss to QPR in the week Steve Bruce’s men lost 1-0 at Bolton Wanderers yesterday.

The result leaves Villa in fourth place, but seven points behind Cardiff City in second. The Bluebirds also have a game in hand.

Villa never really got into the game against the Trotters and, after they beat Championship leaders Wolves 4-1, Villa have struggled.

As Villa began chasing the game yesterday, Steve Bruce made several changes to try and find a goal.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images,)

But one which shocked many Aston Villa fans was the decision to bring on Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.

The 19-year-old striker was brought on for Conor Hourihane in a bold and attacking move, which did not work.

The decision left the Villa formation misshapen. Not only that, but Hepburn-Murphy has barely had a kick all season. Suddenly thrusting the teenager into the spotlight seemed an odd move from Bruce.

The teen had played just 12 minutes of Championship football before being thrown into action yesterday. His call up to the first-team was likely a reward for a fine recent performance v Reading for the under-23s. But Hepburn-Murphy was not the answer to Villa’s problems yesterday afternoon.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Many Villa fans were surprised he was even on the bench in the first place. Bringing on Keinan Davis would have been a more logical move from Bruce. He also had Scott Hogan on the bench if he wanted to bring on another striker, but instead, Bruce tried the youngster.

It was a move that did not work and left Villa fans thoroughly frustrated with their manager yet again. It now seems Villa will have to settle for the play-offs, which they will try consolidate in the coming weeks.

Here is how some Aston Villa fans reacted to the decision to field Hepburn-Murphy yesterday afternoon…

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Aston Villa

After finally starting first Aston Villa game, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy must take chance

Aston Villa will hope Hepburn-Murphy can thrive at Villa Park.

Mathew Nash

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Aston Villa faced Yeovil in the League Cup this week. A solitary goal from Conor Hourihane gave the Championship side the win and advancement to the second round. It was also a game which saw Steve Bruce give a chance to several young talents.

One such player was forward Rushian Hepburn-Murphy. The 19-year-old may have made his debut under Tim Sherwood way back in 2015, but this was actually his first start for his hometown club.

Hepburn-Murphy has been in and around the first-team for some time. His goalscoring record with the development team is a testament to his talents and Aston Villa fans are backing him for success.

(Photo by Peter Haygarth/ActionPlus/Corbis via Getty Images)

He currently has a chance in the first-team and, he needs to take it now.

With Scott Hogan injured and Aston Villa not making big transfer moves so far this summer, suddenly Hepburn-Murphy has a chance to cement his place in the first-team picture.

The teenager, who has had to battle injury trouble in recent seasons, has the perfect opportunity in his hands. He worked tirelessly against Yeovil and that will put him in good stead. But a goal or two would get that monkey off his back and have Aston Villa fans calling for him to remain in Bruce’s plans.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s hopes of getting Isaac Success now look doomed

The Nigerian forward has been included in the Watford squad for the season and even featured on the opening day of the season.

Mathew Nash

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The Premier League transfer window may be closed, but teams in the Championship can still make crucial additions. Aston Villa are still playing catch-up from their early summer financial issues and, therefore, could be active in the final two weeks they have.

One player that has been linked with a move to Villa Park is Watford attacker Isaac Success. As reported by TEAMtalk, Aston Villa had made a move for the Nigerian striker. A forgotten man at Vicarage Road, he had once cost £12.5 million to bring to Hertfordshire. However, Success found little of his namesake at Vicarage Road and is now down the pecking order with the Hornets.

But it looks as though any hopes of Aston Villa signing Success are slim.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Watford named their Premier League squad this week for the upcoming campaign. At number nine in the list, sits Success.

Watford failed in attempts to bring in another striker during the Premier League transfer window. With only Troy Deeney and Andre Gray ahead of him and Stefano Okaka and Adalberto Penaranda linked with moves abroad before the end of the month, Success is likely to stay.

Aston Villa will have to look elsewhere if they are going to find themselves a new striker for the season.

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Aston Villa

One to Watch: Jack Grealish proves Aston Villa worth in victory over Wigan

The 22-year-old has shown maturity far beyond his age.

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Photo: Getty Images

Jack Grealish saw his name float amongst the tabloids throughout the summer’s transfer window, where he was widely linked with a Premier League switch.

The England U21 international developed into one of the finest players outside of the top-flight last season and the general consensus is that the very top of the game is calling the 22-year-old, though he’s focused on Villa’s promotion push for now.

Tottenham Hotspur were the biggest suitors for Grealish in the summer, seeing a £25m bid rejected, and the club’s valuation of the midfielder was proven to be correct as he shone during a gloomy afternoon in the Midlands on Saturday.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

Here, just days after the window slammed shut to end any chance of a move to the Premier League, Grealish got his head down and worked his socks off in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Wigan – looking bright on the ball and earning an electric reception from the home faithful.

It is little surprise that Villa want at least £30m for the midfield star and the reality is that a price in that region would still be a snip in the modern window for a player of Grealish’s capability – as identified by boss Steve Bruce.

“He reproduced the form that he produced last year that made him into a £30m footballer and he looked it today, every penny a £30m footballer. For me, he was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch. That’s how good he was.”

– Bruce was full of praise for Grealish after the game.

Bruce has proven to be a father figure in football for the midfielder, quickly putting his arm around Grealish after the final whistle following a game where Grealish was kicked from pillar to post by Wigan, doing well not to react.

It will be a tough test for Villa and Grealish this season, with Bruce’s side picked amongst the favourites to earn a return to the Premier League, with anything less being considered a failure, and Grealish expected to be the player that leads the charge to promotion.

In other campaigns that may have proven to be a concern but Grealish has shown an incredible amount of maturity in the recent months, choosing to focus on his football rather than get drawn into the lengthy sagas that emerge in the transfer market.

It wouldn’t have been surprising, perhaps even understood, if Grealish handed in a transfer request to seal a move to Tottenham, where he would become another England ace under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino – potentially even have the chance to push into Gareth Southgate’s squad.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

It’s the sort of situation that has been witnessed time and time before. Player’s head is turned, a player pushes for transfer, a transfer is completed – but the old saying that the grass is not always greener elsewhere would have likely to be proven true.

At Spurs, Grealish would not have been guaranteed first-team football every week, he would not have been a star man and would simply have been a member of Pochettino’s supporting cast – a polar opposite to where he stands at Villa.

Having the maturity to shun all the transfer talk, put his head down and show a performance like he did against Wigan proves once again that Grealish has all the capabilities to go right to the top. Staying at Villa was certainly the right decision and the young talent looks focused, determined and full of flair.

As he said just hours after the transfer window closed on Thursday, it’s time to get to work – and Grealish has hit the ground running.

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