With the Premier League about to spark into life this weekend, COS reporter Adam Hennessey casts his eye over the players he feels will have an impact this coming season, but players who readers may not know much about.
Aston Villa are known for having a highly productive youth setup. In recent years, the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Craig Gardner forcing their way into the Villa senior set up, and now the latest product of the Villa academy is ready to make a name for himself… and his name? Marc Albrighton.
You wouldnt be alone if you hadnt heard much about this talented 19 year old, but big things are expected of him at Villa Park, and Albrighton is showing signs of progression, and is aiming for a regular spot in Martin O’Neill’s plans. He made his debut in the now-defunct UEFA Cup against CSKA Moscow last season, and put in a mature performance, although Villa slipped to defeat and elimination from the tournament. Over the summer of 2009, Aston Villa participated in the annual ‘Peace Cup’ pre-season tournament, which gave Albrighton a real chance to sign, amongst some of the stars of world football, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, and Alessandro Del Piero. Alrbighton forced his way into the team, and even scored his first goal for the club against Mexican outfit, Atlante in the group stages.
His mature performances, and trickery down the wing guided Villa to the final, and, whilst the final being a tense goalless affair, he performed admirably against Juventus, and helped Villa down the Italian champions for the title. Manager Martin O’Neill has a pretty impressive track record with aiding youngsters development, and has shown a lot of faith in young Albrighton, already giving him a boost by issuing him with the number 12 shirt for the upcoming season, a significant increase on last years number 45 shirt, aswell as blocking any potential loans away from the club, as he has indicated he will be in his plans… Its now up to Albrighton to prove he warrants a place in the Villa set up.