Steven Gerrard made the bold decision to keep Cameron Archer at Aston Villa during the summer but his lack of first-team action suggests it might have been a big mistake by the Villa boss.
The 19-year-old academy graduate enjoyed a superb breakthrough campaign last season, first catching the eye with four goals in the League Cup for Villa’s first team, including a hat-trick in a win against Barrow.
He was sent on loan to Preston North End in the Championship and continued his impressive form in the second tier, hitting seven goals in just 20 appearances for the Lancashire club, taking his tally to 15 goals in 56 senior appearances.
Manager Ryan Lowe was full of praise for the young striker’s impact in the second tier, saying:
“Cameron has got an abundance of talent.
“It is getting him in the right places, I don’t want him coming short all the time, I want him to be on the shoulder, sniffing around, being proactive, not reactive.
“His quality levels are fantastic, he’s bullish, strong, he can roll, he has got that little burst of pace too.”
Archer’s fine form would continue during the summer, as he managed four goals in just four outings for England U21s, and it all seemed set for the 20-year-old to have a big 2022/23 campaign.
Gerrard confirmed during the summer that Archer would remain with the first team and was expected to challenge the likes of Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings for a starting role.
However, that hasn’t come to fruition, as despite Villa’s poor start to the season, the academy graduate has featured in just 17 minutes of action this term, making three appearances from the bench.
Even against lower league opposition in the League Cup, Archer was afforded just eight minutes of playing time, and this lack of first-team action is surely harming his potential, as he wasn’t called up to the England U21 squad for the current international break.
It makes little sense that Archer is warming the bench when he was attracting so much Championship interest during the summer and Gerrard looks to have made another blunder in keeping him at the club without giving him any real chances.