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They Might Be Giants


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by OutByEaster

The kids are still all right and the next generation are showing signs that they might be starting to come to the boil. Predicting the future success of youth and reserve players is notoriously difficult, some say only a fool would attempt it.

I’ll give it a go.

Zoltan Stieber: Our young Hungarian had a decent season for the reserves, he grew noticeably through the season, both physically and in confidence and it’s no surprise that our results improved to reflect his performances. He’s fleet of foot and quick of mind, popping up where he’s not expected and dancing his way down the left flank. He takes a very good corner, crosses well and hits a decent dead ball. He’s quick too and can pick a pass. There are those that say he could appear in the first team squad even as soon as the end of this season, but for me he’s still too lightweight and gets knocked off the ball too easily by experienced defenders. He’s no great tackler and isn’t too good in the air, but he works hard and he’s got a chance. Could be knocking on the door of the first team by the end of next season.

First team chances: 50%

Marc Albrighton: England U18 winger and a personal favourite of mine. He reminds me a lot of James Milner and a little of Chris Waddle. Plays on the right wing and loves to take a man on, he’s pacy, got a trick and can deliver a ball. Sadly injury meant he missed the last few games of the reserve season, but he’s a reasonable size and he works hard. He’s another one who, if he continues to develop next season could push for a chance by the end of next year. Both Albrighton and Stieber are players we might see out on loan next season.

First team chances: 50%

Jonathon Hogg: A player who developed his way into the reserve team through the season after apparently doing very well in the youth set up. He didn’t immediately bowl me over, but the more I see of him the better he gets. Has a bit of Craig Gardner and a bit or Steve Davis about him. Mobile and determined, he’s not easily overcome, and he’s a bit bigger than some of our other hopefuls.

First team chances: 20%

Barry Bannan: If you’ve seen Barry Bannan play football then you’ll be a Barry Bannan fan. There’s no getting away from it Barry is small. He’s smaller than the average youth footballer. He’s smaller than the average youth footballer by about a foot. He makes up for it in heart; he’s got a look about him of a young man who’s going to prove the world wrong. He can play a bit too, he passes the ball very well from midfield, and he’s dogged when not in possession. He brings enourmous energy to a game, and will run all day. If only he was a foot taller.

First team chances: 10%

Stephen O’Halloran: Martin O’Neill seems to like Stephen, I can see why; he’s got a great attitude and will take anyone on. He’s a good size too and can play left back or centre back, but I’m not sure about his ability. O’Halloran reminds me a little of Ridgewell, but Ridgewell was markedly better at the same age. He has a lot of work to do.

First team chances: 10%

Nathan Delfounesa: He’s touted as the next big thing but sadly I’ve only seen about an hour’s football. He’s only sixteen and is a blossoming England U16 international. He’s got good size and is certainly bigger than Luke was at the same age. He’s not slow, but I don’t think he’s got the jet heels of Gabby or the lightning of Luke, however he seems at sixteen to know what he’s doing. He holds the ball up well and looks reasonable in the air. I look forward to seeing a lot more and would love to know more from those that see the youth team.

First team chances: Who knows? He’ll still be a teenager in 2010.

Behind that group there are a number of other youngsters bubbling under:

Adam McGurk: Again, I’ve not seen much but have heard good things about the young forward. Suffered a bad injury around Christmas time and I hope he can make it back for the start of next season. He’s tall and has an eye for goal.

Eric Lund and Shane Lowry: I’ve lumped them together as in my opinion they’re very similar. They’re rugged, capable defenders who can play across the back four and in midfield when required. Both have shown themselves capable at reserve level, but will need to improve if they are going to develop into the Premiership.

Sam Simmonds: Played one reserve game at centre half. We won it 7-1. He’s a little too small to be a central defender, but looked a neat footballer. One to keep an eye on.

Chris Herd: Keen and energetic midfielder who’s going to have to develop a fair bit to convince me he’ll be able to push onwards to the big time.

Ciaran Clark: Our other England U18 international is a big lad who can play up front or at the back. I like him when I’ve seen him for the reserves, and I believe he’s really impressed for the youth team. He’s got a chance, but I’d like to see a bit more of him before passing judgement.

Yago Bellon: Looks wonderful in the warm up, but has yet to convince me that he’s able to make the step up to being a successful reserve team player, let alone go any further.

So there you go, thirteen lion cubs with a shot at joining the pride.

Good luck to all of them, I hope at least one will get the chance to follow in the footsteps of Liam Ridgewell, Gary Cahill, Luke Moore, Steven Davis, Craig Gardner, Isaiah Osborne and Gabriel Agbonlahor and find their way into the first team.

Impressive list that isn’t it? All credit should go to Bryan Jones, Gordon Cowans and Tony McAndrew; The unseen heroes of Villa Park.

Long may it continue.

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I've seen so little of Sam Williams this year that he's dropped off my radar. To be fair he looked a decent enough player whose biggest asset was his size. With his having missed most of the year, I'm really not sure of his progress.

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