After stealing the show in their FA Cup defeat to Liverpool earlier this year, it’s no surprise that Aston Villa’s array of young talent have really captured the imagination at Villa Park.
Louie Barry was the name on everybody’s lips after netting against Jurgen Klopp’s mighty Reds, but since then, a couple of Villa’s other stand-out youngsters have emerged on the scene.
In Villa’s 3-0 victory over Brighton in the FA Youth Cup fourth round on Wednesday night, Aaron Ramsey (2) and Kaine Kesler got themselves on the score-sheet, with Sean Verity’s side booking their passage into the next stage of the competition.
But while Ramsey bagged himself a couple, it’s Kesler who’s the Villa academy player who Dean Smith must surely consider unleashing in the Premier League.
The 18-year-old right-back was a bundle of energy against the Seagulls, even showing off his athleticism with a superb acrobatic effort that was well stopped by the Brighton keeper.
And then, Kesler opened the scoring for the home side after latching onto Arjan Raikhy’s free-kick midway through the second-half, with the floodgates opened after that.
If Smith was watching, then he no doubt would have been impressed with the teenager’s efforts, and will surely be contemplating whether he may have something to offer right away in the first-team.
Matty Cash has only recently recovered from a muscle injury, and the signs of rustiness were there for all to see in his below-par display against Tottenham last time out in the Premier League.
Then, when you factor in reports claiming Smith is ready to wave goodbye to veteran full-back Ahmed Elmohamady in the future, there is surely a chance for Kesler to stake his claim.
In fact, speaking to The Athletic, one source said: “He looks like he’s got a real chance of featuring for the first team in the future. His speed is frightening and that could set him apart.”
And writing for The Athletic, Gregg Evans revealed that “senior players have been taken back by his blistering pace and his desire to make an impression when called upon”, and that “Smith rates the rapid right-back highly”.
So, given Elmohamady’s uncertain future, and Cash’s recent injury struggles, there really is an opportunity for Kesler to come bursting through the door at Villa Park.
Meanwhile, Villa must sell this disaster this summer…