Aston Villa enjoyed another weekend off from Premier League action after their Friday night encounter with Newcastle United was postponed amid an outbreak in Steve Bruce’s Toon camp.
The pause in the campaign afforded Dean Smith the chance to rest some of his weary legs and set about putting together a game plan he hopes will see the Villans beat West Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers when his side next take to the field.
One name the Villa boss must ensure is on the coach to Molineux come Saturday is teen wonder Jacob Ramsey, with Smith rarely opting to unleash the young star who Academy Manager Sean Kimberley believes boasts “undoubted technical ability”.
Ramsey has not been seen on the field for a Premier League fixture in three months having played the sole 13 minutes of his 2020/21 campaign as a late substitute in Villa’s 3-0 win over Fulham on September 28.
Smith recalled the 19-year-old to the bench for last Monday’s defeat at West Ham United but opted against handing the attacking midfielder his latest senior outing, following a frequent role in the Villans’ EFL Cup efforts.
Ramsey started all three Carabao Cup ties as the Villa Park natives progressed through to the Fourth Round before losing at home to Championship side Stoke, yet offered glimpses of his potential with an assist away to Bristol City days before making his Premier League debut at Craven Cottage.
Ramsey’s progression through to the senior fold has seen him rarely turn out in the junior ranks, with just two appearances in the EFL Trophy and no outings in the Premier League 2 thus far this term.
Villa have high hopes for the England U20 international’s future in Birmingham and Smith has placed him firmly in the first-team fold to help realise that potential, with the Villans boss and his coaching team casting a careful eye over Ramsey in training.
But despite considering him to be a first-team figure now, Smith is yet to truly unleash Ramsey and must start doing so with Villa’s form nose diving from the early promise that took them to second place in the table with four wins from four.
The Villans have claimed just one win in the five league games that followed October’s narrow 1-0 win over Leicester and the 7-2 victory at home to Liverpool is now a memory looking all the more remarkable.
Smith has not been helped by his midfielders being unable to offer a consistent level of creativity, with John McGinn offering no key balls in defeat to Leeds, Bertrand Traore uncreative in defeat to Southampton and Trezeguet without a key pass in the victory over Arsenal as Ross Barkley penned six only to get injured during the defeat to Brighton.
McGinn again failed to provide a key ball in defeat at West Ham as Conor Hourihane similarly struggled before being replaced by Traore, who took just 18 touches but could only achieve one successful dribble as a point of merit.
The struggles of Smith’s more favoured options should ensure a place in his matchday squad is reserved for Ramsey come Saturday and allow the youngster of “undoubted” talent the chance to prove himself, even just from the bench.