1. Continued Development and Integration of: André Green, Keinan Davis, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Cal O’Hare, Jake Doyle-Hayes, Easah Suliman, Mitch Clark, Matija Sarkic and others
Aston Villa are blessed with a mountain of riches in terms of talented, young players on the verge of first-team integration. For some, it has come harder than others. Despite captaining England U-19s to European Championship glory this summer, center back Easah Suliman has but one substitute appearance in his Aston Villa career. Talented 20-year old goalkeeper Matija Sarkic has yet to make his debut, instead sitting behind Sam Johnstone, Jed Steer, and Mark Bunn on the totem pole.
Moreover, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy was cursed with horrible injury luck for the last eighteen months – never featuring for more than a few months at a time before setback.
Keinan Davis, 19, has 21 total appearances in the latter-half of 2017. He admirably replaced Jonathan Kodjia and Scott Hogan during extended injury layoffs to the pair. Callum O’Hare, 19 as well, is waiting patiently for his turn behind fellow young stars Josh Onomah and Jack Grealish in attacking midfield.
For the players above and those to breakout in 2018, the new year offers more chance for first-team action. Especially should the club fail in its promotion efforts. A third consecutive season in the EFL Championship likely ushers in an extended rebuilding process, with aging veterans moved elsewhere.