Just what must Louie Barry do to get a shot of first-team football at Aston Villa?
The 17-year-old was the talk of the town earlier this year when he scored the club’s only goal in Villa’s FA Cup defeat to Liverpool, when Dean Smith’s side was chock full of academy talents.
But that break-out moment has yet to result in any action for the senior side, with Barry even yet to make the match-day squad in the Premier League this season.
That has led to former Villa man Lee Hendrie to question why Barry has yet to be given a real opportunity in the first-team, insisting that he could have plenty to offer even as a second-half substitute for Smith.
Speaking exclusively to FFC, he said: “I’m really disappointed that he hasn’t featured, not even really on the bench since that Liverpool game with the fabulous goal that he scored. He reminds me of a young Michael Owen in the fact that he’s very slight, small, but he’s very quick, and I’m surprised that he hasn’t been given a bit more of a chance since that game.”
“I just feel that he should now be getting into the first–team squad, being on the bench and getting thrown on for the last 20 minutes, relieving a bit of pressure, just because he’s got that pace that he can burn off.”
On Wednesday, the teenager staked his claim once again, smashing in a superb hat-trick for Villa in their FA Youth Cup clash against Burton Albion, whom they thrashed 9-0.
Barry appears to have all the tools in his locker to be a real sensation for Villa, with club’s academy manager, Mark Harrison, saying: “He is still a very young man but as he’s developed, he’s always been one player that you always recognise as having outstanding attributes. He’s got a fantastic mentality, he’s desperate to do well for this football club.”
Barry’s style of play is something that Villa fans will surely be excited about too, with Harrison adding: “As a player, his real strength is his work rate, he’s constantly pressurising the opposition when they are on the ball, looking to create opportunities for himself to nick the ball high up the pitch.
“He is quick, and looks to play off the shoulders of the defenders, always looking for space behind them to be able to run into. He’s good in 1v1s and scores a lot of goals from balls in behind that he can run onto. He’s very much in the mould of a Jamie Vardy.”
All he needs is an opportunity, and Wednesday’s hat-trick should send a huge message to Smith about why he deserves it sooner rather than later.