‘He’s one of our own’. Those words can constantly be heard around Villa Park as Jack Grealish, Andre Green and Keinan Davis try to prove their worth to the first-team.
Some players are ahead of others in the pecking order, while some are itching to get back into action so they can showcase their talents to the supporters.
But there is no doubt that from those players, Grealish stands head and shoulders above his fellow academy graduates, but can Dean Smith find another gem within the system that can make his mark on the team next season?
If an individual is good enough, no matter how old, Smith will give him his opportunity. He proved this at Brentford and has showcased it at times in B6.
Here we look at three players from within the system that can potentially break into the senior set-up next season:
Mitchell Clark- A left-back by trade, Clark is currently plying his trade at League One side Port Vale, which bodes well for Villa because he is learning the ropes in a very tough league. The club’s only bonafide left-sided fullback is Neil Taylor. There is no doubt that the Midlands outfit have been crying out for some competition in that position, and with Kortney Hause moving to his natural centre-back position, Clark is surely in with a chance next season.
Callum O’Hare- Argubly the best talent in the Villa academy ranks, at this moment in time. O’Hare is currently on loan at League Two side Carlisle United and the highly-rated youngster is proving his worth to the team. The playmaker loves to get on the ball, carry it from deep and create chances for his teammates. Say it quietly, but he does remind you of Grealish. It would be very surprising if O’Hare, at the very least, is not part of the Villa squad next term. His style and ability just oozes of a player Smith will love.
Jacob Ramsey- The 17-year-old made his senior debut for Villa when Smith brought him on as a second-half substitute during their defeat against West Brom last month. Another midfielder and another player making a rapid rise through the system. A few months ago, Ramsey was playing for the under-18’s, but his performances caught the eyes of Smith and he soon found himself going head to toe with the senior players. Just like O’Hare, Ramsey is very comfortable on the ball and he likes to create things from the middle of the park. Another player that fits the Smith bill.