While a lot of Aston Villa fans might have been focussing on their impressive early transfer business in recent weeks, academy graduate Cameron Archer has been staking his claim for a spot in Steven Gerrard’s first-team squad next season.
The 20-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Preston North End and hit seven Championship goals for Ryan Lowe’s side, with the Lilywhites reportedly keen on loaning him again next season.
He has also excelled for England U’21s in the recent international break, with a goal off the bench against Albania as well as a double against Kosovo earlier this week.
Reports have suggested that Gerrard will assess the youngster before deciding whether to send him out on loan again next season, but given Villa’s strikers struggled to hit the back of the net consistently last season, he might consider unleashing the clinical Archer in the Premier League.
Ollie Watkins finished the season as Villa’s top scorer in the top flight, hitting 11 goals, which suggests that Gerrard needs a more trustworthy option in front of goal if his side are to achieve European qualification next season.
Although he is only 26 and likely won’t need replacing for some time, Watkins showed his inadequacies last season as he underperformed on his xG, whereas the £5.4m-rated Archer’s recent efforts for England U’21s have shown that he knows where the net is.
Preston boss Lowe was full of praise for the young striker last season, saying: “Cameron has got an abundance of talent.
“His quality levels are fantastic, he’s bullish, strong, he can roll, he has got that little burst of pace too.”
Therefore, it seems like only a matter of time before Archer is given regular opportunities at Villa, and he could be the ideal man to replace Watkins in Gerrard’s side in the long term.