Could Smith's reported transfer target Alex Marshall indicate his Aston Villa plans?

Brentford manager Dean Smith during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Leeds United at Griffin Park on November 4, 2017 in Brentford, England.

Dean Smith was appointed the manager of Championship club Aston Villa last week.

Dean Smith, Manager of Brentford reacts during the  Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Wigan on September 15, 2018 in Brentford, England.

It is not just free-flowing attacking football that Dean Smith is famous for. The new Aston Villa manager is renowned throughout the Football League for his willingness to give youth a chance.

During three years at Brentford, Smith turned Ollie Watkins into one of the most exciting forwards anywhere in the Championship, Neal Maupay became a genuine contender for the Golden Boot, while centre-back Chris Mepham developed so much that Bournemouth reportedly made a £10 million bid for him in the summer (the Sun).

Rico Henry, Lewis Macleod and Sergi Canos also shone under Smith at Griffin Park, while the one-time Chelsea wonder kid Josh McEachren has shown signs of finally living up to his vast potential.


So the identity of Smith’s first transfer target as Aston Villa boss should come as little surprise.

According to the Mirror (14 October, page 51), Villa are keeping an eye on the Jamaican youngster Alex Marshall, who is thriving in Canada’s top flight with Cavalier.

20-year-old Marshall, who has eight league goals in 33 games this season, is also on the radar of Tottenham, Leicester, West Ham and Liverpool and has been compared to a young Raheem Sterling.

Raheem Sterling of England during the International Friendly match between England and Nigeria at Wembley Stadium on June 2, 2018 in London, England.

But does alleged interest in Marshall indicate what Villa fans can expect from the Smith reign? Put simply, a refreshing trust in young talents.

A number of Villa fans were left baffled by Steve Bruce’s apparent refusal to give the club’s array of youngsters a route into the first-team. And the signs suggest that things will be very different under Smith.

Steve Bruce, manager of Aston Villa during a training session at the club's training ground at Bodymoor Heath on September 14, 2018 in Birmingham, England.

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