Aston Villa coach Gordon Cowans raves about teenage striker Rushian Hepburn-Murphy

The 17-year-old scored one and set up another for Villa's Under-21s in Thursday's 2-2 draw at Fulham.

Aston Villa Under-21 manager Gordon Cowans has lavished praise on “explosive” striker Rushian Hepburn-Murphy following the 17-year-old’s eye-catching display in Thursday’s 2-2 draw at Fulham.

Cowans was speaking to AVTV after seeing Hepburn-Murphy open the scoring and set up fellow forward Harry McKirdy’s first-half strike as his side shared the spoils in their U21 Premier League Division Two clash at Motspur Park.

It was the promising attacker’s second straight start for the Under-21s since returning from the Under-17 World Cup last month, where he made one 10-minute substitute appearance in England’s 1-0 group defeat to Brazil, and his coach was more than impressed with his latest performance.

“He’s very explosive,” Cowans said of Hepburn-Murphy, whose goal was his first in three appearances for the Under-21s this season. “His pace is frightening. He causes people problems with his pace alone.

“If he gets isolated in a one-on-one situation, you wouldn’t want to play against him – that’s where his strength is, and if he pushes it past you then you’re struggling to keep up with him.”

A member of Villa’s academy since the age of nine, Hepburn-Murphy became the youngest player to appear in a Premier League match for the club last March when he made his first-team debut as an 83rd-minute substitute in a 4-0 win at Sunderland.

The teenager, who recently put pen to paper on a new two-year deal, also finished the 2014-15 campaign as the Under-18 side’s joint-top scorer and earned the praise of the now departed Tim Sherwood for his exploits.

"He's a talent for the future of the football club,” the former manager told the club’s official website after handing Hepburn-Murphy his debut. "I think he's scored 18 goals in 21 games. It will be expensive now if anyone wants to try and take him off us!”

Whether new boss Remi Garde will take a similar shine to the Birmingham-born front man remains to be seen, but all the signs at this stage seem to point towards a bright future for him at Villa Park.

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