Former Aston Villa youth prospect Samir Carruthers has lifted the lid on the way in which the club treated academy players during his time at the club, in a frank interview with the Football League Paper.
The 22-year-old left Birmingham for MK Dons in 2013, initially on loan before completing a permanent signing a year later, and recently played his 100th game for Championship side MK Dons, scoring a fine goal against his ex-Villa boss Paul Lambert's Blackburn Rovers side.
After being handed three senior appearances in the Premier League by Alex McLeish in the latter stages of the 2011-12 season, Carruthers was not given a look in under McLeish's successor Lambert.
In an interview with the Football League Paper, Carruthers revealed how demoralising it was to be an academy player under Lambert's rule, and insisted that he had to get away from Villa Park to further his career.
He said: "I’m sure Paul Lambert had his reasons but the truth is we never saw eye to eye. That first year, I wasn’t even allowed out on loan. I just travelled up and down the country. I wasn’t even making the bench – he just made me sit there in the stands, watching like I was a fan.
"At first, it’s all good experience. But it becomes demoralising, especially when it stretched into a second year. There was no real explanation and you start thinking ‘I’m not good enough’. There were so many youngsters doing really well and he never gave any of us a chance.
"I’ve got no regrets, the decision to leave was perfect. I’ve played 100 games since then and, 100% I wouldn’t have got that at Villa. If I was on a bench at Villa, what would I have? The odd few games at famous stadiums, but I wouldn’t really understand football. You can’t tell me someone like [Leicester City's] Marc Albrighton would be this good if he’d stayed, either."
Carruthers' assessment of Villa's youth policy under Lambert is a damning one, but he is not the only former hotly-tipped star to have had to leave the club in recent years in order to achieve success.
Daniel Johnson failed to make a senior appearances before being allowed to leave for Preston in January for just £50,000, but the Jamaican has gone on to score 15 goals in 54 league starts from central midfield since leaving Villa Park.
Meanwhile, winger Jordan Graham has been a bright spark for Championship side Wolves this season, and Gary Gardner is now more of a Nottingham Forest player than he is a Villa one, having become a fan favourite during loan spells at the City Ground.
Villa are rock bottom of the Premier League, nine points adrift of safety with just nine matches left to play.