While Jack Grealish’s departure from Aston Villa may have stung somewhat, there’s no questioning that the Midlands club have got a number of youngsters coming through the academy at Bodymoor Heath to leave fans excited.
Chief among those is Cameron Archer, who manager Dean Smith is slowly but surely easing him into action in the Premier League, including bringing him on a fixture of the magnitude of Manchester United away at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
A profile piece by The Birmingham Mail back in the summer of 2019 described Archer as “one of Villa’s most highly thought of youngsters alongside Jacob Ramsey”, and that he’s a “livewire forward with excellent footwork and the ability to find the back of the net”.
And, The Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece added: “Genuine pace. That’s Cameron Archer in a nutshell. He’s short, stocky and jet-heeled. Blink and you’ll miss him.
“Cam, as he’s known, is a natural striker who plays off the shoulder of a defender but, in recent weeks, has been deployed on the right of a three-pronged forward line, such is his ability to beat his man one-on-one. Delaney and Smith could see his long-term future as an electrifying winger.”
Archer’s similar blend of speed, skill and finishing is something that has already gotten everybody’s attentions behind the scenes at Villa Park, with assistant head coach Craig Shakespeare noting he made a big impression earlier this summer.
He said: “We went on a pre-season training camp and he came down and did really well – caught everyone’s eye with his enthusiasm and goal scoring ability.”
His former manager at Solihull Moors, Jimmy Shan, who had had him on loan there, raved: “He’s a centre-forward. His movement is excellent but it’s his pace that makes him such a threat. He was rapid, let me tell you. He doesn’t look quick but he just pulls away from defenders with ease. He’s a bright and intelligent guy and very inquisitive.”
That pace makes him a completely different striking option to what Smith currently has at his disposal with the likes of Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings, and it’s what marks him out as a potential game-changer off the bench.
Whether he’s ready to start games is another question, but Archer clearly has all the ingredients to become a big success at Villa Park, and it’s up to Smith to harness that.