Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Gerrard stresses Aston Villa ‘really believe’ in youth development after Iroegbunam debut

Tim Iroegbunam, Steven Gerrard, Aston Villa, April 2022

Steven Gerrard has hailed the academy development at Aston Villa, which was on show in the form of Tim Iroegbunam last week.

Iroegbunam, 18, made his full debut for Aston Villa in the 2-0 win over Norwich City. The defensive-midfielder started alongside academy graduate Jacob Ramsey and John McGinn.

Iroegbunam following the path of Ramsey – who has missed just two league games this season – would be a major positive for Villa.

The youngster may be afforded another opportunity this week, as Ramsey could be unavailable. Gerrard said the 20-year-old was “a big doubt as we stand” during his pre-match press conference.

Clearly, the manager is an admirer, not only of Iroegbunam, but the academy set up that has developed him. Youth progression appears to be a big focus at the club.

“He’s still learning his way, we believe we can polish him up and shape him into a strong Premier League player,” Gerrard said.

“We want to give opportunities to young talent, we really believe in our academy.

“It’s a great environment for players to learn, with a lot of work, investment and good coaching.”

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard before the Premier League match at the London Stadium

The likes of Carney Chukwuemeka, Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Cameron Archer have also all played in the first team this season.

The latter two have impressed out on loan in the Championship of late. Gerrard may be keen to have a look at the pair, and more academy prospects ahead of next season.

“Villa fans want to see homegrown talent in the team, they have a different connection with the supporters,” Gerrard added.

Gerrard expecting challenge at relegation-threatened Burnley

Gerrard is expecting a tough game this weekend. His side head to Burnley, who are just two points above the drop zone, but have won their last three.

“I’m sure the atmosphere will be really strong, we expect a tough game and a tough challenge,” Gerrard said.

“I think it’s disrespectful to say that Burnley just fight and compete, they have really good technical players and a strong mentality.”

While he is wary of the challenges, the Villa manager is clear of what he wants from his players this weekend.

“We want three points, we are off the back of two positive results after a difficult period.”

Should results go their way, a win this weekend could elevate Villa into the top half of the table.

READ MORE: Aston Villa youngster Chukwuemeka could up sticks due to lack of game time under Gerrard