Tim Iroegbunam was spotted with the first team during Steven Gerrard’s first training session as Aston Villa manager as the teenager pushes for a Premier League chance, as reported by the Birmingham Mail.
Following the appointment of the former Rangers boss on a three-year deal last week, Villa chief executive Christian Purslow offered an indication as to why Gerrard had been identified as the man to build on the foundations laid down by Dean Smith.
And one sentence, above all, caught our eye.
“Steven began by managing and developing top young players in the Liverpool FC Academy, which is experience we value highly at Aston Villa,” said Purslow, who knows Gerrard closely from his time as a director at Anfield.
During the past two years or so, Aston Villa have made a concerted effort to make their Bodymoor Heath academy one of the best in European football.
Plenty of time and resources have been invested into targeting, identifying and signing some of the most exciting up-and-coming talent on the market, with Lamare Bogarde, Sil Swinkels and Ben Chrisene among those putting pen to paper.
Iroegbunam, however, could be the most exciting addition of all.
Will Steven Gerrard give Aston Villa’s youngsters a first-team chance?
The latest in a long line of fresh-faced prospects to make the short trip from West Brom to Aston Villa, 19-year-old Iroegbunam joined in July – only weeks after being named the Baggies’ 2021 academy player of the year.
Many at Villa believe Iroegbunam is a future first-team regular – the club has “huge hopes” for the technically gifted playmaker – and Gerrard, a midfielder himself in his playing days, could be the ideal coach for a player of such vast potential.
Iroegbunam has impressed in his nine Premier League 2 appearances in Villa colours.
And, according to the Birmingham Mail, he was spotted being put through his paces during the new manager’s first training session yesterday alongside fellow youngsters Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Cameron Archer and Carney Chukwuemeka.
Is a first-team debut on the way?