Villa are investing heavily in their youth development, with Mark Harrison taking over as Villa’s new academy boss.
Harrison was in charge at West Brom before, and Smith was impressed with the work he did there.
Villa now want him to revolutionise their academy over the coming years.
“We wanted an academy manager who would be the best to make our academy the most progressive in the area,” Smith said.
“Mark has a track record of doing that. I have been impressed with his work and I have seen it close at hand during my time at Walsall and now Villa.
“I have been fortunate to have picked up a number of the players they released from West Brom – Romaine Sawyers being one and Paul Downing too. They (Albion) know how to produce players.
“I think Mark, having now taken over here, can help push the club forward. We want to be the best academy in the area and pushing for (best in) the country.”
If Villa do become the best academy in the area then it will directly impact on West Brom and Birmingham.
The Baggies and Birmingham have both produced some outstanding talents in recent times.
The likes of Nathan Redmond and Jack Butland have come out of Birmingham’s academy, while West Brom have developed Romaine Sawyers and Kemar Roofe.
If Villa now start plucking the best talents from around the local area that could be a blow to the claret and blues’ local rivals in future.
But Villa could benefit hugely from developing more of their own talents, with Jack Grealish already a shining light for their academy.
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