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Why Aston Villa youngster could be club’s answer to Harry Kane

Callum Robinson is impressing on loan at Preston North End in League One - could Tim Sherwood be the man to give him his big break at Aston Villa?

Recruited following a steady, if brief, spell in charge of Tottenham, one of the main reasons Tim Sherwood landed the top job at Aston Villa was undoubtedly his record for blooding in home-grown talent.

Nabil Bentaleb and most notably Harry Kane were among the players to benefit from the then-Spurs manager’s approach to giving young players a chance and it’s an ethos that the new Villa boss has always maintained.

Keen to promote from within, having spent time with many of Tottenham’s younger stars, Kane has never been under any illusion as to who he owes his current run in the Spurs side to.

“I knew Tim [Sherwood] from the development squad, and we had a great relationship,” the 21-year-old explained in an interview with Sport magazine last month.

“He threw me in when maybe other managers wouldn’t have. Maybe that’s what a few more young strikers coming through need.”

But while Aston Villa’s current Premier League position may prohibit the use of too many youth stars too soon, the Claret and Blues’ manager certainly looks to be the man to help get the best out of the academy’s many talents next season.

And if anyone is looking for the Villans’ very own version of Kane they could do worse than 20-year-old striker Callum Robinson.

A club product through-and-through, the Northampton-born forward made his debut for Villa in a 4-0 League Cup defeat at the hands of Tottenham last season.

Like Kane, he's also something of a regular for England at youth level, representing the national team at four different levels of youth football and scoring at each and every one of them.

Quick, skilful and capable of playing anywhere across the front three, Robinson looks like a star in the making and certainly a talented youngster on a par with fellow academy product Jack Grealish.

But while Grealish has been given his opportunity to play regularly and impress at Villa Park, Robinson has had to bide his time, so far restricted to just four Premier League appearances.

Competing with the likes of Christian Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor for a starting berth, the striker opted to do what Kane had done before him at Tottenham – move out on loan.

And while Kane spent several seasons impressing at Leyton Orient and Millwall, Robinson has been busy making an impact with Preston in League One.

It’s there that the 20-year-old has excelled under Simon Grayson, often deployed out on the wing to great effect.

Goals have followed too, with a winner against fellow automatic promotion hopefuls Bristol City the most notable highlight from his temporary spell at the club.

In addition to that, Robinson also netted a memorable hat-trick in the FA Cup, albeit against non-league opposition in the form of Havant & Waterlooville.

Brought back to the Whites on another short-term loan deal last month, Grayson spoke in glowing terms about the young striker in quotes from the official Preston website.

"He wants to improve; he’s versatile and we are delighted he has chosen to come back to us when there have been Championship clubs who wanted to take him," he explained.

The comments certainly paint the picture of a committed young professional, keen to play more rather than warm the bench or take on a bit-part role in the second tier.

Yet for all the acclaim surrounding Robinson, the truth of the matter remains that his future at the club could come down to Sherwood.

Win next time out in the Premier League against Sunderland and the club will take another big step towards safety this season but once Villa’s Premier League status is confirmed it’s time for them to start looking to the future again.

Robinson must be kept under close scrutiny from now until the end of the campaign and if he continues to star for Preston then the Villans boss must consider giving him a first-team opportunity beyond a single short substitute appearance.

With too much pressure already placed on Benteke, and the Belgian potentially weighing up a move away in the summer, it could be time to give youth a chance.

If it works, the club could have their very own version of Kane – a young, home-grown talent to help bring the fans together and boost morale at the club – and even if it doesn’t, it will be a move that sends out a positive message to the entire playing squad.

Grealish has already been given a chance by Sherwood. From next season it would be great to see the same given to Robinson and the rest of the youth ranks.

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