Villa fans have been calling for the caretaker boss to give the club's top prospects a run in the first-team now relegation is all but inevitable.
Aston Villa caretaker manager Eric Black has hailed teenage winger Andre Green’s recent progress but stressed that he will only pick young players if he feels they are completely ready for the first-team.
Green, who has been on Villa’s books since the age of nine, made his first two appearances for the club last month after being promoted to the senior setup, earning his professional debut as a 62nd-minute substitute in the 2-0 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur before making another second-half cameo in the following weekend’s 1-0 loss at Swansea.
However, the 17-year-old attacker was left out of the matchday squad by Black for last Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Chelsea and it remains to be seen whether he will be back in the 18 when Bournemouth visit Villa Park tomorrow afternoon.
Villa currently sit 15 points from safety at the bottom of the Premier League with only six matches remaining, and with relegation all but inevitable at this stage, fans have been calling for Black to give Green and the club’s other top prospects a run in the first-team over the final weeks of the season.
While the former Coventry City boss is open to giving youngsters a chance, though, he is also wary of throwing them into the spotlight too soon.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the Bournemouth game, Black told reporters: “You always look at the squad and players that you have available. What I have to assess as the manager is whether it’s the right time and circumstances. Are they physically fit enough to do it? Will they cope with it?
“I’m not saying this specifically to Andre Green because he’s done exceptionally well, but how will they handle the atmosphere? Will it dent them going forward? I have to assess all these things and if I don’t think they should be involved then I won’t play them.”
Meanwhile, Black also insisted that he is happy to remain in charge of Villa for as long as necessary as the board conduct their search for a new manager.
The 52-year-old Scot originally joined the club from Rotherham United in January to work as a first-team coach under Remi Garde, but the Frenchman's departure last week saw him handed the reins for the Chelsea thumping.
He will again be the main man in the dugout for tomorrow’s visit of Bournemouth – when Villa's relegation will officially be confirmed if they fail to match Norwich City’s result at Crystal Palace – and could remain in charge for the rest of the season if the club decide to wait until the summer to appoint Garde’s successor.
"I'm not looking ahead," Black said at his press conference. "I'm looking at it on a game-by-game basis. That’s why we’ve worked all week on Bournemouth, and after that if I’m asked to continue and there’s nobody else in place then I’ll start the process for Manchester United.
"I was asked by the board if I'd take control of this until they appoint a new manager. I've been given a challenge.
"I'd always be 100 per cent professional, whether it be two days or seven weeks. I want to see progress, even little steps, the desire not to get beat then that'll be good."