Date: 6th February 2008 at 3:29pm
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Teenage sensation Nathan Delfouneso has signed his first professional contract at Villa.

The player has only just turned 17 and has already been given a squad number in recognition of his efforts in the U-18 and reserve teams.

He also travelled with the full squad for our loss at Fulham but did not make the final 16.

People have been commenting that he might be the next to step up for quite a while, and it looks like that may happen sooner rather than later if he keeps progressing at the same rate.

Speaking on the official site, Martin O’Neill admitted that he had been very pleased with Delfouneso’s application and attitude so far and that he wanted him to join the lads for the Fulham trip so he could start to experience life at the top and not be overawed when his time does come.

‘Nathan is very much one for the future. He turned 17 on Saturday – how we wish we were all 17 again!

‘I thought his performances in the youth team games this season have been excellent.

‘I thought it would be nice for him to join us at Fulham. He could have a look at it so that if he is pitched in eventually it isn’t a surprise to him or more importantly he isn’t overawed.

‘He has trained with the first team and he will continue to do that. He will move between that and games in the youth team – and there’s an important one coming up at Carlisle on Thursday.

‘It’s a matter of keeping his feet on the ground but he does seem like he is a level headed young man. He can play though – make no mistake!’

With Gabby out injured, and all of our remaining strikers, well, misfiring, you have to wonder how close to a debut he really is.

We need some kind of spark upfront, and a young, hungry player wanting to make a name for himself could make quite an impact if given 10-15 minutes here and there in games.