Tim Sherwood sets out Aston Villa's identity with Rushian Hepburn-Murphy inclusion

The claret and blue boss wants Aston Villa to be known as a club where emerging talent comes to flourish.

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood insists that the inclusion of rookie striker Rushian Hepburn-Murphy during last weekend’s 4-0 win at Sunderland was a way of sending out a message about the club’s faith in homegrown talent.

Hepburn-Murphy, 16, was named as a surprise substitute for the match at the Stadium of Light, before coming on in the 83rd-minute for Christian Benteke when the three points were all but sealed.

Speaking to the club's official website ahead of the visit of Swansea, Sherwood stressed that the cameo was a reward for the teenage hotshot’s prolific form for the Under-18s and hopes his fellow fledglings take note that opportunities are now there for the taking.

"It's about bringing your own through,” he said. "That's what I did at Tottenham and pretty much five of them are first on the team sheet every week now. That is a good success for Spurs.

"I took a few young boys up to Sunderland. Rushian has done very well. The youth set-up have told me he's done very well with the U18s. I said I would put him on the bench and if we were 3-0 up, I'd put him on.

"Sometimes you need to send a message out to the academy - not only to the academy but to the local area.”

Sherwood also hopes that giving the likes of Hepburn-Murphy a taste of first-team football will catch the attention of other up-and-coming prospects elsewhere and demonstrate that Villa remains one of the best clubs around for helping kick-start promising careers.

"If you want to play and you want to play in someone's first team - even at a massive club like Aston Villa - you come to this place because I am going to give you an opportunity. No danger of that,” he added.

"Why would you waste your time going somewhere else? Come here!”

It remains to be seen whether Hepburn-Murphy will make another appearance on the Villa bench come Saturday afternoon but, considering the club’s ranks are filled with some similarly exciting talents, there could be a few more contenders battling for a spot.

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