Amid all the exciting first-team signings that Aston Villa made over the course of the summer transfer window, the work done in securing some of the country’s brightest young talents arguably went under the radar.
In came the likes of Ajani Burchall and Jayden Barber among others, but one starlet who appears set for potentially the biggest future in the game, is Josh Feeney.
The 16-year-old arrived from Fleetwood Town in the summer, and has already been showing his considerable ability and potential by playing four games at Premier League 2 level – essentially playing against players who are several years older than him.
Speaking after the confirmation of his signing back in July, Villa academy manager, Mark Harrison, said: “We are delighted that Josh has joined us. He is a centre-back with an awful lot of potential who had attracted a lot of interest and has also captained England at U16 level.
“We would like to thank Fleetwood Town for their professional manner during the process of Josh joining. We look forward to seeing how Josh develops over the next few years.”
And, after Villa’s 4-2 victory over Burton Albion in the EFL Trophy, The Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece was quick to rave about the talented teenager.
He said: “Looking back at last night, what a talent Villa have on their hands in terms of 16-year-old Josh Feeney. He arrived from Fleetwood Town in the summer and has quickly become a key player for Mark Delaney’s under-23s. Feeney’s a classy, ball-playing centre-back.
“He’ll link up with the England under-17s next week alongside another big talent at Villa, 15-year-old Travis Patterson who came on at Burton last night.”
Given a lot of captains are often defenders who able to lead from the back – Tyrone Mings of course being Villa’s current one – Feeney seems to have the mentality to become exactly that in the years to come.
His experience at leading his country at U16 level stands him in good stead, while the fact he’s playing well above his age group already, and that too in a completely new club and environment, speaks volumes of his ability to handle pressure and expectation.
Dean Smith could well unearth a future Villa captain in Feeney.