Alan Hutton has spoken about Indiana Vassilev being included in the Aston Villa first-team set up, as reported by Football Insider.
The 18-year-old has been regularly involved in the Aston Villa first-team in recent weeks, coming on as a substitute in the cup against Leicester City and Fulham, before taking a place on the bench for the Manchester City loss.
All of this may have only afforded him 26 minutes on the pitch, but this can be seen as a positive for his development, in regards to both his personal game and status within the club.
Hutton showed his delight for the youngster, but was also honest about what his step-up says about Villa’s squad: “He played with us a few times in the first-team, looked quite lively, a decent player. He’s obviously still very young so possibly one for the future.
“The way the situation is at the moment, with lacking numbers up top, it shows where Dean Smith is in terms of his striker options and that he obviously has to turn to the young boy.
“Keinan Davis is still out with injury so they are very thin up top. On one hand, it’s brilliant to see a young boy coming through, he’s obviously doing well at his level to be training with the first-team and then to actually get game time.
“Good for him, he’s doing well but like I say they definitely need to bring somebody in and strengthen that area.”
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It can be suggested that Smith’s decision to include Vassilev in his team was slightly forced upon him, due to both Wesley and Keinan Davis being injured, while Jonathan Kodjia has been ill.
Therefore, while it is encouraging for him that he has been included in the squad in recent matches, it is also a damning indictment of the depth the club has up top.
This is also hinted at by the fact that Smith opted to play without a recognised striker on the pitch during the loss against Man City.
The Athletic have linked Villa with moves for the likes of Islam Slimani and Christian Benteke, so it will be interesting to see whether Vassilev’s status in the squad changes if either of those or other striker targets arrive.