As Aston Villa’s young lions did the entire club proud last week against Liverpool, Dean Smith must surely have been watching from home with a sense of pride.
The Villa boss of course couldn’t take to the dug-out for the FA Cup third round clash, but would no doubt have been left impressed by how his side’s U23s and U18s players fared against the reigning Premier League champions.
And whilst they did end up conceding four on the night, Mungo Bridge looked an exciting prospect at the heart of defence.
Despite coming up against a fleet-footed and pacey Liverpool attack that contained the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino as their front three, Bridge looked strong physically – he won four of his seven total duels, with only Dominic Revan and Kaine Kesler winning more with seven apiece.
He also made a team-high three tackles and committed no fouls whatsoever, which underlined his impressive feel and reading of the game. Even making the step up to the first-team at Premier League level, Bridge is hardly going to be up against players the calibre of Mane and Salah week-in and week-out, so for him to be that assured against the Reds bodes well for how he might fare in the future.
Writing for The Birmingham Mail early last year, Ashley Preece said: “Mungo Bridge continues to make waves for the under-23s and oozes class. Bridge possesses a fierce left foot, good in the air and loves a stern tackle. Overall, Bridge is a top talent and one to watch. He’d be ideal in a back three, say, while he has played at left-back previously. His technical ability makes him an attractive proposition for Smith, who’ll no doubt see a mini Tyrone Mings in Bridge given their similar playing style.
“Bridge is an exciting proposition and one who always intrigues Smith every time the head coach – a former centre-half don’t forget – watches him.”
If Villa are thinking about the long-term, then they could potentially save millions in the transfer market by giving Bridge a genuine opportunity to shine in the first-team.
Rather than spending big-money on a complete unknown who would have to get used to his surroundings, giving an academy player the chance to play for his team would be a really shrewd move.