Gordon Cowans tips goalkeeper Viktor Johansson for bright future at Aston Villa

The 17-year-old Swede made his debut for Cowans' Under-21 side in Thursday's 1-0 win over Fulham.

Aston Villa under-21 manager Gordon Cowans has tipped teenage goalkeeper Viktor Johansson for a bright future at the club following his performance in Thursday’s 1-0 win over Fulham.

Cowans was speaking to Villa’s official audioBoom channel after watching Niall Mason’s first-half strike hand his side their second U21 Premier League Division Two win in four days following the 3-2 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night.

However, they largely had Johansson to thank for their latest result, as the 17-year-old Swede was forced to make several crucial saves either side of half-time to help the hosts secure all three points.

The youngster originally joined Villa from boyhood club Hammarby in July 2014 following a series of trials but had to wait until last month to make his debut for the Under-18s after suffering a stress fracture in his back during his first season in the Midlands.

He has sine kept two clean sheets in two starts for Ben Petty’s side, though, and after recording another shutout on his Under-21s bow, Cowans believes the club could have a special talent on their hands.

“Viktor’s very highly-rated by all the goalkeeping staff,” said the Villa legend. “They all think he’s going to be a special goalkeeper. Some of the saves he pulled off today were excellent.

“It was difficult kicking with the wind, but I think the kid’s got a hell of a chance. He’s only very young as well.”

In addition Cowans also had high praise for goalscorer Mason, who has made 13 starts in 14 appearances for the Under-21s this season after joining Villa from Southampton last summer.

The 19-year-old, who has previously been on Real Madrid’s books, was playing at centre-half on Thursday afternoon but also seen time at right-back and in central midfield over the course of the campaign.

He was one of a handful of rookies who spent time with the first-team during their pre-season training camp in Portugal and Cowans believes his versatility could be crucial to helping him make the step up to the senior squad in the future.

“Niall can play right-back, centre-half or in midfield, so he is versatile and gives himself plenty of options,” the Villa coach added. “He’s physically very powerful, with the strength to go and play in midfield or centre-half, or right-back even.”

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