Three Aston Villa youngsters to break through next season

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

Three emerging Villa products who could break into the first-team in Tim Sherwood's first full campaign in charge.

With Jack Grealish becoming the latest academy product to make his mark on the Villa first-team this season, here are three more fledglings who could join him in Tim Sherwood’s squad next term.

Callum Robinson

After a earning a handful of Premier League cameos toward the end of last season, Robinson joined Preston North End in September on a month-long loan, where he made enough of an impression to have his deal extended into the New Year.

Five goals in 11 games saw him recalled in November, however, after Darren Bent’s switch to Brighton opened up a first-team spot, but the promising striker would fail to see a single minute of senior action in the months following.

It was a puzzling move from the now-departed Paul Lambert, considering he was thriving with regular minutes, but the England Under-20 international has since headed back to Deepdale and picked up right where he left off.

With his performances on the left flank helping keep the League One club’s promotion push going in recent months, as well as demonstrating his top-flight potential, there could well be a place for the Agbonlahor-likened speedster in Sherwood’s squad when he returns to Villa Park in the summer.

Riccardo Calder

It’s rare to see Calder mentioned alongside the likes of Grealish and Robinson when it comes to the club’s top talents but the versatile midfielder is well-regarded at Villa Park, having made the first-team bench on three occasions this season.

Aged 19, the England Under-17 international has started all but one game for Villa’s Under-21s this season in central midfield but is also just as comfortable out wide or at left-back, where Sherwood’s side could no doubt do with some cover.

Depending on where the claret and blue boss decides to strengthen in the summer, he could turn out to be Leandro Bacuna 2.0.

Gary Gardner

Set to turn 23 in June, Gardner might be on the older side of the prospect scale but, having missed significant chunks of time with two serious knee injuries, it has to be emphasised that he’s still making up for lost time.

Long-considered one of Villa’s most promising talents, the midfielder was even compared to Steven Gerrard after coming up through the ranks to earn his first-team debut in December 2011, making 15 further appearances over the second half of the season, but his fitness struggles have since derailed his progress with his hometown club.

However, after a five-month loan spell at Brighton and his current stint at Nottingham Forest, the former England Under-21 international is beginning to fulfil his potential in a deeper role for Dougie Freedman’s side and should have pushed himself into Sherwood’s plans ahead of the summer.

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