It’s hard to come up with titles for articles on the most promising of Aston Villa’s young players that aren’t too sensationalist. A realistic title goes something like ‘Here’s another one that might make it, but then again, he might not’. Still, Aston Villa’s Callum Robinson scored on his England Under-19 debut recently, made his Villa debut as a sub this season and helped Villa’s youth team to be the toast of European by winning the NextGen series against Chelsea last season. So, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, and class him as one of the most likely to succeed.
18-year-old Robinson was, in many fans opinion, the boy of the match in the Next Gen Series final. The elusive young forward was a constant irritant for Chelsea’s defence as he pulled Chelsea’s defenders out of position, dribbled towards them and emerged in between the lines.
Live wire Robinson arguably has a playing style similar to Italy’s Emanuele Giaccherini as he drifts out wide, pops up as a second striker and is a jack-in-the-box type of forward with good technical ability. Wherever Robinson plays he is always eager to receive the ball and has a lot of confidence to take defenders on, strike on goal or create opportunities for others such as his assist for Jack Grealish in the semi-final.
With players like Robinson, Grealish and Samir Carruthers at Tony McAndrew’s disposal, it is perhaps not surprising that Villa produced such a scintillating destruction of Sporting Lisbon in the team’s 5 -1 mauling of the Portuguese team in Lisbon, in which two other Villa prospects Mikey Drennan and Graham Burke grabbed braces.
Happily, Robinson’s exciting performances in the Next Gen Series last season earned him his first professional contract with the club after ten years development at Bodymoor Heath. The contract is richly deserved, as Robinson’s development this season has perhaps been the most profound in the academy. Not only did he dazzle on the big stage in the Next Gen final but he also produced an end product to complement his performances.
In the second half of the Next Gen Final, Chelsea appeared to have no answer to Robinson and their failure to deal with the young forward ultimately cost them the trophy.
Many Villa fans were surprised that Robinson’s match winning Next Gen Series final performance did not earn him a call up to Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21 side, when England badly needed a spark of creativity and unpredictability in the final third of the pitch. Hopefully Southgate will be more progressive in his thinking.
Robinson though was selected for England recently at Under-19 level in a 4-1 win against Hungry in Budapest. Robinson came off the bench as a second-half substitute to rifle home England’s fourth. Paul Lambert also gave him a debut as a last ten-minute substitute for Tonev, in the 4-0 defeat by Spurs in the League Cup this season.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how soon it is before the Villa manager gives the young striker another taste of first team football. Surely, he’d do a better job out wide than Jordan Bowery is capable of, when Lambert has utilised Bowery there previously, and Robinson also seems to be the more natural goalscorer of the two.
When the Villa squad is injury-free, Robinson might have limited chances to force himself onto the first team bench, in the short-term, but in his favour Lambert isn’t too cautious in giving youth a chance. Certainly, if things start to go stale in attack for Lambert, Robinson might just be a player to spice things up a bit. UTV
This article is an updated and extended version of the section on Callum Robinson by Shelley Osborne in the MOMS article published on June 29th 2013
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