Amid a wretched run of form in the Premier League, Aston Villa boss Dean Smith will be desperately hoping that tonight’s clash against Southampton can see his side pick up some much-needed momentum.
The Villans have registered four consecutive defeats in the top-flight, with their last one coming at home to West Ham when Ezri Konsa’s sending off saw them slump to a 4-1 reverse.
And while Smith might be reluctant to chuck in one of his club’s prized academy products in at the deep end, the time has surely come for Carney Chukwuemeka to be given a run-out.
When Jacob Ramsey was forced off with injury mid-way through the first-half of that clash against the Hammers, it was made clear by the Villa Park faithful that they wanted Chukwuemeka to come on to replace him instead of Ashley Young.
While Ramsey has since been passed fit for today’s game against the Saints, Smith could really freshen up his side by bringing Chukwuemeka into the fold.
The teenager has earned rave reviews for his performances at youth team level with Villa, and was even dubbed as a “scary talent” by Ashley Preece.
Writing in his post-match player ratings after seeing him score a hat-trick against Newcastle in the FA Youth Cup last season, Preece showered him with more praise, saying:
“This was a Carney Chukwuemeka masterclass. It was a clinic in how to play an advanced midfield role with the 17-year-old oozing confidence and swagger. The hype’s real surrounding this kid who, as supporters know, has been around Dean Smith’s first team for a long time now. Villa’s No.10 started almost every attack and looked to hurt Newcastle at every opportunity.”
Hailed as “special” by podcaster Sam Tighe, the now 18-year-old could be the kind of game-changing introduction that Villa need to spark their season into life.