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Aston Villa

Three Aston Villa youngsters ready to make the step up next season

The Villains have a number of young stars ready to make the jump to the first team.

Ruari Macneil



Aston Villa
Photo: Getty Images

Aston Villa have enjoyed a strong turnaround this year under Steve Bruce, which has seen the club swiftly move on from a tough start in the league campaign to move as high as second in the table after match-day 32.

The opening few weeks of the season saw Villa sitting in 18th yet, having clawed their way back up the table, the Villans look set to fight for promotion to England’s top flight via the play-offs.

Promotion would be a huge achievement for Bruce and his men and the Premier League would undoubtedly welcome a return for the English giants.

Should the Lions find their way back into the top flight, there will be a number of youngsters hoping to make their mark on the first-team, with the added incentive of establishing themselves as rising Premier League stars.

With the season drawing to a close, we take a look at three individuals who should be watched closely as they bid for a regular spot in the Villa first-team.

Andre Green

Aged only 19, Andre Green has already played nearly 20 games for the Villans. Making his debut back in 2015/2016, the teenager has already experienced the Premier League stage and will be itching at the prospect of a return to the top flight.

A highly-rated winger, Green has represented England at every youth level from under-16 to under-20, where he is currently still a squad member.

The 19-year-old has previously drawn a lot of attention from Premier League clubs interested in his signature but, in spite of this, Green has since opted to sign a long-term deal at the Midlands club.

Like Jack Grealish, Green should quickly become a fan favourite with increased first-team exposure as a graduate of the club’s academy.

With a strong pre-season under his belt this summer, the winger has every chance of making it into Steve Bruce’s plans for the seasons to come.

Keinan Davis

England under-20 forward Keinan Davis has enjoyed a decent season with Villa this year, making around 15 appearances so far and bagging a couple of goals along the way.

At 6ft 3in, the 20-year-old is a frightening prospect for central defenders, and could be a useful weapon for Bruce against the strong defences boasted by Premier League sides.

Davis is clearly rated by Bruce if his game time this season is anything to go by, and the manager will be hoping his young forward can kick on and build on his experience gained during the current campaign.

With loan forward Lewis Grabban likely to return to parent club Bournemouth at the end of the season, a vacancy should open up for Davis to make his own.

James Bree

English right-back James Bree will be hoping to continue his development by learning from senior full-back Ahmed Elmohamady, while maintaining hopes of overtaking the Egyptian star as the club’s first choice in his position.

Bree, 20, joined Villa after three successful seasons with Barnsley, and has made seven league appearances under Bruce this term.

With Elmohamady turning 31 next season, Bree should have an increased chance of playing time, especially if the club returns to the top flight.

Having brought the youngster to the club, Bree is clearly the plan in terms of the right-back for the future, and will continue to be eased into the starting XI.

After shining for the development side this season, it would be unsurprising to see Bree line up as a first-team regular next term at Villa Park.

Life long lover of sport in general with a soft spot for football. A consistent defender of Scottish football as a spectacle. Desperately waiting to see my country qualify for a major tournament.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa would be the perfect platform for Harry Wilson if they are promoted

Josh Kerr



Photo: Getty Images

Aston Villa are 90 minutes of football away from a return to the Premier League, and they are already looking at potential signings for next season if they are promoted.

The Midlands side face Fulham at Wembley on Saturday in the Championship play-off final with a place in the top flight up for grabs. And, should Villa bring an end to two years outside of the promised lands of the Premier League, they will be determined to recruit properly to prepare themselves for next season.

According to the Scottish SunLiverpool are looking for a loan fee of £250,000 to snag impressive academy prospect, Harry Wilson, in a deal that would also see financial penalties issued should he not get the required amount of first-team action.

Wilson has been one of the brightest prospects in the Reds academy for many years and his recent form in the Championship is highlighting why there is such a buzz for this talented youngster and why the Villains should swoop.

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Since departing for a temporary move to Hull in the January window, the 21-year-old has been in fine form, netting seven goals in 13 appearances to help Nigel Adkins’ side avoid the drop.

The youngster also made his international debut in his first start for Wales under new boss Ryan Giggs and netted a maiden goal for his country against China.

Despite the winger’s talents, it seems impossible to think that Wilson could break into Liverpool’s irreplaceable ‘fab three’ which means another loan move would be the best option for his development, and Villa’s potential promotion to the Premier League could set up the perfect platform in the top-flight for the youngster.

Loan deals are never ideal, permanent signings are what supporters want to see, but this is is a move that could be a benefit for both parties and something Steve Bruce should strongly consider.

The Villains likely have enough quality at their disposal to compete strongly in the Championship again next season, if they don’t win their play-off, Wilson could give them serious depth.

The winger is an elegant and languid play maker in the mould of Jack Grealish, and the combination of the two could get fans very excited for next season.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s play-off final is vital regarding the future of Jack Grealish

The 22-year-old has matured significantly under Steve Bruce this season.

Josh Kerr



Photo: Getty Images

Aston Villa’s day of destiny awaits, and the future of Jack Grealish could also hang on this crucial Wembley fixture.

The 22-year-old has been in wonderful form for The Villans this season, and he showcased his talent in the play-off semi-final over two legs.

Villa edged past Middlesbrough 1-0, with Grealish playing a starring role over and club’s supporters will be desperate to keep their star man.

However, the future of the Solihull born youngster could hinge on whether Steve Bruce’s side gain promotion to the Premier League with a number of clubs set to swoop if Villa don’t reach the top-flight.

According to the Birmingham Mail, Grealish was recently offered a big money move to Leicester but opted to instead stay at Villa Park.

However, if Aston Villa were to fall at the final hurdle at Wembley then it may be difficult for Grealish to focus on another year in the Championship especially if the Premier League comes knocking once again.

The attacking midfielder has blossomed under Bruce this season and has been central to the club’s promotion hopes.

He has really matured over the year and his performances on the pitch have continued to impress those who once doubted whether he would fulfill his potential.

According to reports from the Mirror, Villa will need to cut costs if they fail in the play-offs and Grealish would be one of the club’s more saleable assets.

Grealish would be a huge loss to Villa, but the Midlands side will be full of confidence going into one of football’s richest fixtures.

They will know full well that a win could be the factor that ensures the club are able to withstand elusive offers for some of their top players.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s James Chester comes back to haunt former manager Tony Pulis

The Welsh defender came back to bit his old boss in the play-off semi clash.

Max Cohen



James Chester
Photo: Getty Images

Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough side were expertly stifled by Aston Villa in their play-off semifinal, as the Villans held Boro to 180 minutes of scoreless football.

Villa centre-half James Chester was a constant rock at the back, revealing to Pulis that his former boss was wrong to sell him when the two were together at West Bromwich Albion.

Chester signed for the Baggies from Hull City in the summer of 2015, after five impressive seasons for the Tigers. The fee was reported to be in the region of £8 million and many expected the Welsh international to excel in the back four under Pulis.

Yet, frustratingly for the centre-back, Chester made only 13 league appearances for the Baggies in the 2015/16 campaign. The Welshman started just nine Premier League matches all season, as Pulis clearly did not consider him as first-choice at the Hawthorns.

After just one year at West Brom, Chester was sold to Championship side Aston Villa in 2016.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

In the following two seasons at Villa Park, the centre-back has enjoyed tremendous success, making over 75 appearances and establishing himself as an indispensable presence at the back.

This season, Chester has struck up a formidable partnership with former Chelsea captain John Terry.

The airtight defensive combination was on full display during the two matches against Middlesbrough, as Chester and Terry stifled the high-octane Boro attack.

Featuring the likes of Britt Assambalonga, Adama Traore, Stewart Downing, Patrick Bamford, and Rudy Gestede, the Teesiders’ star-studded frontline was held scoreless due to Villa’s superb defense- led by James Chester.

As Tony Pulis watched his side run out of ideas and fall to a 1-0 aggregate defeat, he will surely be ruing his 2016 mistake.

Allowing James Chester to be sold to Aston Villa truly came back to haunt the Boro boss, as the Welsh international delivered Pulis a dramatic reminder of his abilities and cost the Teesiders a spot at Wembley.

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