After seeing Matty Cash get sent off in Aston Villa’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in the Premier League, Dean Smith must surely now look to unleash academy starlet Kaine Kesler.
Speaking after the game, the Villa boss made it clear that Cash cost his side the chance of a potential victory, saying: “He will be down, especially with the earful he got off me in the dressing room after.
“He will learn. He is a young lad in his first Premier League season and I think he will be a super player. But he was reckless and stupid. We won’t have many better chances of going and beating a team like Manchester City.”
With Cash set to be suspended for Villa’s next game against West Brom at home on Sunday, it’s surely the perfect time for Smith to turn to one of the club’s brightest academy prospects: Kesler.
Speaking to The Athletic, one source said: “He looks like he’s got a real chance of featuring for the first team in the future. His speed is frightening and that could set him apart.”
And writing for The Athletic, Gregg Evans revealed that “senior players have been taken back by his blistering pace and his desire to make an impression when called upon”, and that “Smith rates the rapid right-back highly”.
The 18-year-old could provide the injection of energy and dynamism that Cash usually brings when on song, and rather than handing a rare chance to someone like Ahmed Elmohamady, Kesler would get much more out of it.
With Villa still chasing a surprise place for European football next season, these kinds of opportunities are going to be few and far in between.
It’s exactly why Smith must turn to the explosive Kesler this weekend in Cash’s absence.