Aston Villa are now heading into the final run in, in our 2018/19 Championship campaign, and whilst most fans will sitting be looking at the second tier table and a potential Play-Off promotion extension this season, there is one eye on our Under 23 youngsters who are out for good game time so head coach Dean Smith can better assess them as he looks to further rebuild the first team squad over the summer.
With a number of loanees out of contract, some will naturally depart as we know, but there remain high hopes for some in the younger crop.
Here’s how they are getting on so far as we tick into April.
Lads already out prior to the January transfer window.
Mitch Clark capped an impressive pre-season with the first team and our Under 23s by bagging a loan out to Port Vale. The 20-year-old Welshman has hit the ground running at Vale Park and has 39 starting appearances to his name so far and by all accounts, he’s been very impressive across those matches. He also has one substitute showing to his name.
Aaron Tshibola renewed his acquaintance with Steve Clarke up at Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock after a semi-successful spell in the second half of the 2017/18 campaign. He made his second bow for them in the clash against Aberdeen and he now has 20 starting appearances to his name, with a return of one goal and fsix further showings from the substitutes bench.
Gary Gardner made the switch across the City to join up with brother Craig at Birmingham City. He has now made 35 starting appearances for them, returning two goals. He also has a substitute showing.
Ross McCormack again headed out to Australia for a season-long loan with Central Coast Marriners. The 32-year-old had five league starts to his name, with only one goal returned. Having headed back in January following the cancellation of that spell, he moved north of the border back to former club Motherwell in early January. He has one start to his name, with three showings from the bench so far. This hasn’t changed since my last update and he’s tagged as ‘injured’.
Ritchie de Laet also headed out to Australia for the year, joining up with Melbourne City. He has 21 league appearances to his name and six goals.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy went out earlier in January to Cambridge United. He has six starting appearances to his name, with a further five substitute showings to his name. He has now bagged two goals.
New lads added to the list later in the January window were.
James Bree – Ipswich Town. The 21-year-old now has nine starting appearances to his name.
Callum O’Hare – Carlisle United. 20-year-old O’Hare has ten appearances to his name so far, with a return of one goal.
Corey Blackett-Taylor – Walsall. He’s made three starting appearances for them, with three further substitute appearances for the Sadlers so far.
Jake Doyle-Hayes – Cambridge United. JDH has made one start and two substitute appearances.
Scott Hogan – Sheffield United. The 26-year-old has only featured three times for Chris Wilder, but did grab himself an assist on his debut and scored his first goal against Bristol City. He has an additional substitute showing.
Harry McKirdy – Newport County. He has one start to his name, with six further substitute showings so far.
Deadline day capture Frederic Guilbert did sign permanent terms with us, but was instantly loaned back to former club Caen until the summer. He’s played in eight games since doing the deal.
Young goalkeeper Matija Sarkic appears to have headed out on loan to Havant and Waterlooville in the last week of March. Soccerbase credit him with one appearance for the National League side so far, but he was on the bench for us in the Blackburn tie.