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BOF gives his thoughts on one of the stars of Villa's Peace Cup victory.

For me (and I suspect most people who watched the Peace Cup), the most outstanding outfield performance throughout the competition came from a previously little-known winger who hadn't even made his senior debut before landing in Malaga.

Step up Marc Albrighton.

Marc would only have been seen by reserve team spectators and known only anecdotally by those on Villa fora, but on such things as chance can careers be launched, or at least expedited. If Stiliyan Petrov had not injured his shoulder during an awkward landing then who knows how Marc Albrighton's tournament would have turned out. He certainly wouldn't have come on to the pitch when he came on, or maybe at all. He wouldn't have turned the Atlante game so dramatically and we might be sitting here today still none the wiser about the 19 year old from Tamworth.

The fact is all of these things did happen and what we saw was a player with no little ability; and the rest!

Plenty of things really impressed me about Albrighton. Firstly and perhaps most importantly he has remarkably accurate crossing. But more than that, it is very very reliable. It wasn't like one in three crosses hitting it's mark, it was virtually every one of them. I was astonished with the accuracy and the regularity with which he got a ball right into the danger zone. This was the crossing of a naturally gifted winger. Doing it straight from his debut made it all the more impressive.

Not only that though, he showed an ability and fearlessness in taking on the fullback and going around him to make the cross or continue towards the box. He had the pace to do it too. He would also cut inside when the mood took him. This meant that the fullback couldn't be sure which route Marc would take on the next attack; and if a winger can keep a defender guessing then that's half the battle. The fullback is never sure-footed and if he over commits then he's liable to be left on his backside every now and again.

But I'm not finished. Marc regularly showed bags of technique on the ball. Most youngsters are, understandably, eager to show off what they can do when they break into the first team. So they receive the ball, go on a run, bite off more than they can chew and often run out of ideas, ending up in dead-ends or being dispossessed. Not Marc. I remember one manouver in particular where, on the halfway mark, he received the ball, dragged it back just out of a tacklers reach, nutmegged the player and laid a deadly accurate 30 yard pass down the wing to the on-rushing and appreciative Ashley Young. It got his team out of a potential situation and put us on the front foot. Exactly what we needed at the time. And all of this was done in the blink of an eye and against experienced full international FC Porto players. Proper level-headed mature gifted football that I'm unsure many of his own team-mates could have done with such aplomb.

And I haven't even mentioned his debut goal yet. This was basically his first opportunity to score in a Villa shirt. Quite a moment for a young local lad you'd think. Pressure get to him maybe? Not a bit of it. It was a difficult waist high ball by the time he got to it and he was coming in diagonally on it. Yet he got his foot over it, kept the ball down, lashed it with relish and scored a genuinely quality goal. Players with more experience than him regularly put those chances in row Z but he kept composed and got Villa back in the game.

So he appears to have it all. Crossing, speed, technique, passing & shooting. Plus composure, good decision making, intelligence and discipline. The latter four things that can make all the difference when applied to the other attributes.

All of this praise for his attacking play might lead you to believe that he left the defensive duties to the rightback who, co-incidentally, was also making his debut. But that's not the case either. Marc was regularly back doing his defensive shift helping out Eric Lichaj who was also finding his feet in his first senior role. There really wasn't one thing you could say Marc was lacking. No doubt he was pumped up for his first big chance to impress MON and he now needs to maintain this impressive level of performance, but he gave everything and in my opinion he had it all and looked like a 'proper' winger.

As I said, for me Marc was the stand-out outfield performer in the tournament for Villa, which is made more amazing considering he was playing alongside the likes of Young & Carew. Players who know a thing or 2 about MOTM performances.

Going into this tournament a lot of people were talking about the transfer window (and they still are). One of the names being bandied around in a lot of people's wishlists was Spurs' reserve right winger David Bentley. However, I haven't heard that name too much since the tournament finished. Almost as if people are now thinking 'nah we're sorted at right wing'.

I firmly believe we have a right winger who can come in and do a first rate job whenever called upon and James Milner knows there's a youngster waiting in the wings (pun intended) for his chance to grace the Premier League stage (the fact that Milner is still only 23 has not escaped me :))

It is now in Martin O'Neill's hands as to when Marc gets his chance in the Premier League. Something tells me it will be sooner rather than later. And it is in Marc's hands to make sure that when he does make that bow, he does not go the way of Peter Whittingham.

Though something tells me he wont.

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Good writeup. It was his crossing that caught my eye too. Looked a natural crosser of a ball (something I was tagged with in my breath taking u-12 to u-16 career* ;)). Its almost like he doesn't have to think about crossing, he just swings a boot and the ball goes where he wanted it to, 99% of the time. Take note James Milner.

*That was the peak of my own football career as shortly after my sixteenth birthday I discovered the produce of one Arthur Guinness. :)

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I enjoyed that fella, cheers.

I've been singing his praises for ages, while there has been all the fuss about Delfouneso and Bannan, I've been telling anyone that will listen that, "Yeah, but wait to you see this lad Albrighton..."

I think the Middlesborough game was a moment where I worried. The fact that Heskey was out there concerned me, although there is a counter-arguement there that Milner was at RB (which is a WHOLE other discussion!) but it would appear that my fears were hopefully put to rest by him doing the biz this summer.

Put it this way, if Jimmy is out & Albrighton is fit, I will be one angry man if NRC is out there!

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BOF gives his thoughts on one of the stars of Villa's Peace Cup victory.

For me (and I suspect most people who watched the Peace Cup), the most outstanding outfield performance throughout the competition came from a previously little-known winger who hadn't even made his senior debut before landing in Malaga.

Step up Marc Albrighton.

Marc would only have been seen by reserve team spectators

Not quite true, dont forget he played in Moscow!

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Not quite true, dont forget he played in Moscow!

Very true. People say we lost because of the team we put out & while there is a huge element of truth in that, the fact is Albrighton/Bannan did us proud, but Sidwell & Shorey messed up for the first goal, then Shorey/Osborne for the second!

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Not quite true, dont forget he played in Moscow!

Very true. People say we lost because of the team we put out & while there is a huge element of truth in that, the fact is Albrighton/Bannan did us proud

I agree, they were very impressive in that game and didnt look out of place, especially when you compared them to some of the performance that the 'senior' players put in.

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I havent seen much of albrighton, but if he really is as good as u lot think then i hope he gets more chances in the first team, maybe cup matches and a few league matches here n there, we don't want to rush and pressure him with to much expectation so soon like the Arse do with there kids. Just hope he doesnt get injured.

:flag: < love that thing

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There's always been a bit of a question mark over our all conquering youth and reserve group of the past three seasons, they've won a couple of reserve titles and a youth league but they've done it as a group, and the questions have always been around how strong the individual players are as opposed to the strength of the team.

Kevin MacDonald is clearly adept at organising and motivating young players, and there has long been a suspicion that maybe we've had a really good group of players with the potential to play at championship or league one level who have succeeded because of the number of them coming through together rather than on the quality of their talent.

The performances of Albrighton in this tournament and of Delfouneso last season at first team level have gone some way towards answering those questions, and I for one am excited about what we might have.

Beyond those two, we've seen Lichaj not look out of place, Bannan succeed in the Championship and both Clark and Lowry give glimpses of the type of talent that might push through.

Some have fallen away, but I'm increasingly convinced that some of these lads will have a part to play in the future of this football club and that maybe this golden generation were more than the sum of their parts after all.

There's a long way to go, but Albrighton and Delfouneso have convinced more than they've deterred and I think they'll continue to do so this season.

Albrighton was excellent in the Peace Cup; he did what he's good at, taking a full back on time and again and getting balls into the box. It's what he's been doing for the past couple of seasons and he's exceptional at it. He's grown bigger and stronger over the past eighteen months, and sure, he'll sometimes make a bad decision, he'll sometimes try and take on a man once too often, but his work rate is such that he'll be back in thirty seconds time to get it right.

It's his work rate that will get him through I think, it'll be there no matter how good a full back he comes up against and no matter how bad a game he's having. His willingness to work hard for the team and run all game will mean he's always worth having in your side.

I'm very happy with him as a fourth winger for our collection and I think he'll make a more than able back up for James Milner this season. I'm delighted to see him take his chance and I think he'll get more.

Marc Albrighton and the group of young players he's grown up with are worth keeping an eye on this season I think.

It's enough to make you look forward to a third round league cup tie on a cold autumn evening against Accrington Stanley.

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Marc Albrighton and the group of young players he's grown up with are worth keeping an eye on this season I think.

It's enough to make you look forward to a third round league cup tie on a cold autumn evening against Accrington Stanley.

It'll be interesting to see who lines up for the reserves on the opening day of the season. MON has tended to take the likes of Delfouneso, Osbourne, Salifou out of reserve duty once they've made the step up. It should give us some idea of where he sees Albrighton spending the season. I think we can rule out a loan aswell. He's too good for that unless it's to a promoted side. You're right about Accrington too :lol:

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