Aston Villa youngster hails coach, outlines what makes club's academy so strong

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

Lewis Kinsella believes Kevin MacDonald has coached Villa's youngsters to be stronger and fitter than their rivals.

Aston Villa defender Lewis Kinsella has told the Birmingham Mail that academy coach Kevin MacDonald has trained the club's youth side to be stronger and fitter than most of their counterparts.

Whereas Villa's first-team have suffered ignominious relegation at the end of an abject season, the academy side are in contention for promotion in their own league and face a play-off final against Arsenal or Blackburn next week.

Several academy stars have made at least their first steps into the senior set-up this season in recent weeks, with Jordan Lyden, Andre Green, and Kevin Toner all having featured under either Remi Garde or Eric Black after players such as Jack Grealish have previously made the grade.

Kinsella, who is yet to make a senior appearance for the side but has been an unused substitute in the Premier League, believes that the coaching nous of MacDonald has been key to Villa's youngsters thriving in recent years.

The defender told the Birmingham Mail: "He's unbelievable. He's helped me massively. Until now every season I've had little injuries and niggles. But the pre-season I had was outstanding with him. He made me so fit. Our 21s are so fit and strong that we overpower teams in the 21s and it's had a massive benefit on me.

"There's a lot of running. Obviously he's stern and strong minded but that's a good thing about him. I think he knows how to treat a player . He's strong with us, but then he also lets us have fun when the time is right. Yes there is quality there [in the academy]. A lot of them do have a lot of quality.

"It's more to do with experience why they've not been thrown in earlier. Because at the end of the day some of the senior players have played over 200 league games, they know the league inside out. The young boys haven't. How do you know if they are good enough if you don't throw them in? I see Kev Toner has got in lately, he's a great lad and a good player so it's good to see him involved."

Green has been linked with a move away from Villa this summer with a host of top clubs said to be interested in his signature, but with Villa facing a first season out of the top flight in nearly 30 years they will be desperate to hang on to as many of their young stars as possible.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch