Aston Villa Under-23s and Academy

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Aston Villa Under-23
Aston villa logo16.png
Full name Aston Villa Football Club Under-23s & Academy
Nickname(s) Villans, The Villa, The Lions, The Claret & Blue Army
Short name Villa, AVFC
Founded 21 November 1874; 143 years ago (1874-11-21)[1]
Ground Villa Park
Ground Capacity Villa Park - 42,660[2]
Owner Recon Sports Limited
Chairman Tony Xia
Manager Kevin MacDonald
League Premier League 2 (Division 2)
2015-16 Premier League 2 (Division 2), 4th, (Play-off finalists)
Website Club website

The Aston Villa Under-23, formerly Aston Villa Under-21 and Aston Villa Reserves, are the most senior youth development team of Aston Villa and compete in Premier League 2 (Division 2) of the Professional Development League and the Premier League International Cup in the 2016–17 season. The team were part of the FA Premier Reserve League since its foundation in 1999 and were winners of the 2011-12 Premier Reserve League South title, the last in that format. The team plays its home games at Villa Park and Bescot Stadium (home of Walsall F.C.). Aston Villa also have an academy side that competes in the Under-18 division of the Professional Development League and the FA Youth Cup annually.

The side has been successful in recent years, as well as becoming national champions in the 2003–04 and 2009–10 seasons, the team also clinched four out of five Southern Championships between 2007 and 2012, before the format changed to the Professional Development League. The side also won the NextGen Series in 2013, a Europe-wide tournament for elite academies.

Current first-team players Gabriel Agbonlahor, Gary Gardner, André Green and Jack Grealish all came through the youth system at the club, as well as former players Ciaran Clark, Gary Cahill, Gareth Barry, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Darius Vassell, Craig Gardner, Marc Albrighton, Andreas Weimann and Steven Davis amongst many others. The Villa academy also developed England and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge and Willem II midfielder Daniel Crowley. The U23 team is primarily made up of players under the age of 23, although three over-age outfield players and an over-age goalkeeper may be named in a matchday squad. These may include fringe first-team players and first-team players recovering from injury.


The origins of the team date back to 1892, when Aston Villa Reserves joined the Birmingham & District League. After finishing in the runners-up position twice in the first 2 seasons of the competition, Villa finally won their first trophy in the 1894–95 season, winning 26 out of 30 league games and losing just once all season. Several titles followed after this achievement, including a run of 8 consecutive titles between 1902 and 1910. When Villa finally left the Birmingham & District League in 1915, they had accumulated a total of 12 league titles and 6 runners-up finishes.

After that, the reserve team played in the Central League for many years, becoming champions in 1929–30, 1963–64 and 1992–93.

In 1999–2000, the FA Premier Reserve League was set up, Villa were one of the founding members, and were split into the Northern section of the league. Three disappointing seasons followed, however in the 2003–04 season, inspired by brothers Stefan Moore and Luke Moore, Villa eased to their first title. In the two seasons which followed (2004–05 and 2005–06), Villa agonisingly finished both campaigns as runners-up, both times to Manchester United. In the 2006–07 season, for the first time since its introduction, the FA Premier Reserve League excluded Coca-Cola Championship teams from playing in the league, with the 20 senior English Premiership teams parallelling the teams involved in the FA Premier League. This also meant that due to geographical circumstances, Aston Villa Reserves were switched from the Northern Division, to the Southern equivalent, for the first time since the start of the original format in 1999. Villa eventually finished 4th - winning 9 out of their 18 games, with Luke Moore the top goalscorer, with 7. The season saw the impressive development of several youngsters, most notably including Zoltán Stieber, Shane Lowry and Stephen O'Halloran, all of which were rewarded with first-team opportunities in the pre-season fixtures, prior to the 2007–08 season.

Inspired by Swedish striker Tobias Mikaelsson, Aston Villa Reserves clinched the 2007–08 Southern title, their second regional success since the inception of the league in 1999. However, they were beaten 3-0 in the Play-Off Final by Northern champions Liverpool.

In the 2008–09 season, the team went one better by securing their second consecutive Southern title, and then defeating Sunderland to claim their first ever national title, with goals from Nathan Delfouneso, James Collins and Shane Lowry.

Andreas Weimann netted nine goals, to help Villa keep up their trend of securing the Southern title - their third on the trot - in the 2009–10 season. This included a remarkable 15-game unbeaten streak, running from the opening game of the campaign, all the way through to the last game of the season against Portsmouth. However, the club were denied a second consecutive national title, as they were beaten on penalties by Manchester United, after a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford.

The 2010–11 season saw changes to the standard format of the league. Only 16 clubs competed, which meant a split between the top heavy Northern league. Undoubtedly the highlight of the season, was a 10-1 home victory over Arsenal at the Greene King Stadium, en route to finishing third in the league.

Following changes arrived in the 2011–12 season. Three leagues were abolished, returning to two, whilst each team played the teams in their own league home and away. They also played each team in the regional league once, with home and away games split evenly. More success followed however, as Villa picked up another Southern title, with Andreas Weimann scoring nine times during the course of the season. It was a case of deja vu however, as they were again beaten on penalties by Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Premier Reserve League was abolished during the summer of 2012, to make way for the Professional Development League 1. Aston Villa will be one of 22 clubs to take part in the inaugural season, participating in Group 2 of the competition.

During the 13-year tenure of the original Reserve system, Aston Villa were the second most successful club - behind Manchester United - with five regional titles and one national title. The U23 team currently play their home matches at Villa Park and Bescot Stadium, home ground of Walsall F.C.. The Academy team play their home matches at Bodymoor Heath.

Hong Kong Soccer Sevens[edit]

The yearly invitational seven-a-side Hong Kong Soccer Sevens tournament brings together leading youth sides from around the world, and has brought notable success to Aston Villa's in the past - with a squad of reserve and youth players fielded annually for the event for over a decade. Villa have won the tournament five times, more than any other team.

Villa won the third HK Soccer Sevens tournament in 2002, defeating Arsenal in the final, they went on to defend their title in 2004 (as the 2003 competition was cancelled due to the SARS outbreak), inspired by Stephen Cooke and Steven Foley they clinched the trophy in the final against Manchester United. Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor captained Villa to the semi-final in 2006 - losing to the eventual winners Urawa Red Diamonds - and also received the 'Player Of The Tournament' accolade. Villa won the competition again in May 2010, beating Central Coast Mariners of Australia in the final.[3]

Aston Villa Under-23[edit]


As of 18 August 2017.[4]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Sweden GK Viktor Johansson
33 Montenegro GK Matija Šarkić
England DF Jacob Bedeau
England DF Oscar Borg
35 Wales DF Mitch Clark
Wales DF Jack Coates
Republic of Ireland DF James Finnerty
England DF Liam Hailey
England DF Louis Hall
Pakistan DF Easah Suliman
Republic of Ireland DF Kevin Toner
Sweden MF Khalid Abdo
England MF Corey Blackett-Taylor
No. Position Player
England MF Jack Clarke
England MF Jordan Cox
32 Republic of Ireland MF Jake Doyle-Hayes
Australia MF Jordan Lyden
Slovakia MF Józef Pastorek
England MF Alex Prosser
39 England FW Keinan Davis
29 England FW Rushian Hepburn-Murphy
England FW Harvey Knibbs
England FW Harry McKirdy
England FW Kelsey Mooney
36 England FW Callum O'Hare

Reserve, U21 & U23 Honours[edit]

Birmingham & District League

  • Winners:
    • 1894/95, 1895/96, 1899/00, 1902/03, 1903/04, 1904/05, 1905/06, 1906/07, 1907/08, 1908/09, 1909/10, 1911/12.
  • Runners-Up:
    • 1892/93, 1893/94, 1897/98, 1898/99, 1900/01, 1910/11.

Birmingham Senior Cup

  • Winners:
    • 1879/80, 1881/82, 1882/83, 1883/84, 1884/85, 1887/88, 1888/89, 1889/90, 1890/91, 1895/96, 1898/99, 1902/03, 1903/04, 1905/06, 1907/08, 1908/09, 1909/10, 1911/12, 1984/85.
  • Runners-Up:
    • 1875/76, 1880/81, 1892/93, 1894/95, 1900/01, 1901/02, 1923/24, 1982/83, 1994/95, 1995/96.

FA Premier Reserve League North

  • Winners:
    • 2003/04.
  • Runners-Up:
    • 2004/05, 2005/06.

FA Premier Reserve League South

  • Winners:
    • 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2011/12

FA Premier Reserve League

  • Winners:
    • 2008/09.
  • Runners-Up:
    • 2007/08, 2009/10, 2011/12.

HKFC International Soccer Sevens

  • Winners:
    • 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2016

Aston Villa Academy[edit]

Aston Villa Academy is the youth development system of Premier League team Aston Villa, it fields an under-18s team in the U18 Professional Development League 1 (South Division). Until 2012 the team competed in Group B of the now defunct FA Premier Academy League.[citation needed]

In the 2009/10 season Villa clinched top spot in Group B of the Premier Academy League, impressively notching the most wins (22), most points (68) and most goals (84) of all 41 clubs involved. Villa's youngsters were drawn against Group A winners Arsenal in the semi-final, which was won via a single strike from Nathan Delfouneso. This subsequently meant a final against FA Youth Cup winners Manchester City, which was comprehensively won 2-0, with goals from James Collins and Chris Herd. The top scorers for the season were Irish striker James Collins (23), Austrian striker Andreas Weimann (16) and English striker Nathan Delfouneso (15).The 2008/09 season was less fruitful for Villa's youngsters, as they finished 3rd in Group B, and were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at the first hurdle, losing in the Third Round to eventual champions Arsenal.[citation needed]

Villa's youth team has a strong history in the FA Youth Cup with wins in 1972, 1980 and 2002. More recently, Villa also reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup in 2004, eventually being knocked out by eventual runners-up Chelsea.[citation needed]

The Aston Villa Academy played in both seasons of the now defunct NextGen Series, a tournament for Europe's elite football academies between 2011 and 2013. The team was composed of under-18s with up to three under-19s in each matchday squad. Having made the quarter-finals in the 2011-12 Series, the academy side captained by Samir Carruthers won the final of the 2012-13 tournament on 1 April 2013 beating Chelsea 2–0, at the Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia, in Como, Italy.[5]

The team train at Bodymoor Heath in North Warwickshire and also play their home matches there on weekends.

Academy squad[edit]

As of 18 August 2017.

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
England GK Kieran Boucher
England GK Emmanuel Idem
England DF Isiah Bazeley-Graham
England DF Charlie Farr
England DF Charlie McConnachie
Northern Ireland DF Ethan Patterson
England DF Dominic Revan
United States DF Callum Stretch
England DF Jake Walker
England DF Josh Williams
England MF Jack Birch
No. Position Player
England MF Mason Birch
England MF Lewis Brunt
England MF Luke Ige
England MF Callum Rowe
England FW Mungo Bridge
England FW Ben Guy
England FW Anton Hooper
England FW Aaron Pressley
England FW Jacob Ramsey
England FW Michael Tait

Academy Honours[edit]

NextGen Series

FA Youth Cup

FA Premier Academy League U17s

  • Winners:
    • 2003–04

FA Premier Academy League U18s: Group B

  • Winners:
    • 2007–08
    • 2010–11

FA Premier Academy League U18s: Play-Offs

  • Winners:
    • 2007–08
  • Runners-Up:
    • 2007

Non-playing staff[edit]

Corporate hierarchy[edit]

Position Name
Chairman Tony Xia
Chief Executive Officer Keith Wyness
Board Advisor Brian Little
Director Tracy Gu
Board Member Rongtian He
President Emeritus Doug Ellis


Management hierarchy[edit]

Position Name
Technical Director Steve Round
Under-23 Manager Kevin MacDonald
Under-23 Assistant Manager Mark Delaney
Under-23 Goalkeeping Coach Andy Marshall
Under-18 Manager David Hughes
Under-18 Assistant Manager Sean Verity
Under-18 Goalkeeping Coach Ronnie Sinclair
Academy Director Sean Kimberley
Academy Head of Coaching Brian Eastick
Academy Coach Peter Saunders
Academy Coach Tom Evans
Academy Coach Dan Bolas
Head of Education and Welfare Paul Brackwell

Notable Academy Graduates[edit]

The following players have all been members of the Aston Villa academy for at least one full season and have either made at least one appearance for the first team in professional competition, have gone on to play for a fully professional team or have represented their national team. Players in bold are still contracted to the club.


Player DOB Position First-Team Debut First-Team Appearances First-Team Goals Current Team
England Daniel Crowley 3 August 1997 Midfielder 9 August 2015 (League One with Barnsley) 0 0 Willem II
England Jordan Graham 5 March 1995 Midfielder 7 December 2013 (Championship with Ipswich Town) 0 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
England Rushian Hepburn-Murphy 24 August 1998 Forward 14 March 2015 (vs Sunderland) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
Republic of Ireland Michael Drennan 2 February 1994 Forward 18 January 2014 (League One with Carlisle United) 0 0 Shamrock Rovers
Switzerland Benjamin Siegrist 31 January 1992 Goalkeeper 26 March 2014 (Conference Premier with Cambridge United) 0 0 Vaduz F.C.
Saint Lucia Janoi Donacien 3 November 1993 Defender 30 August 2014 (League Two with Tranmere Rovers) 0 0 Unattached
Jamaica Daniel Johnson 8 October 1992 Midfielder 23 October 2012 (League One with Yeovil Town) 0 0 Preston North End
Hungary András Stieber 8 October 1991 Midfielder 27 September 2014 (Nemzeti Bajnokság I with Győri ETO) 0 0 Győri ETO
England Jack Grealish 10 September 1995 Midfielder 7 May 2014 (vs Manchester City) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
Turkey Ümit Eminoğlu 14 September 1994 Midfielder 25 September 2013 (Turkish Cup with Gençlerbirliği) 0 0 Redditch United
England Callum Robinson 2 February 1995 Forward 24 September 2013 (vs Tottenham Hotspur) 5 0 Preston North End F.C.
Australia Reece Caira 7 January 1993 Defender 27 December 2012 (A-League with Western Sydney Wanderers) 0 0 Unattached
Republic of Ireland Derrick Williams 17 January 1993 Defender 1 December 2012 (vs QPR) 1 0 Bristol City
Republic of Ireland Graham Burke 21 September 1993 Striker 28 August 2012 (vs Tranmere Rovers) 0 0 Notts County
Republic of Ireland Samir Carruthers 4 April 1993 Midfielder 7 April 2012 (vs Liverpool) 3 0 MK Dons
England Gary Gardner 29 June 1992 Midfielder 31 December 2011 (vs Chelsea) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
England Nathan Baker 23 April 1991 Defender 25 January 2011 (vs Wigan Athletic) 122 1 Bristol City
Australia Chris Herd 4 April 1989 Midfielder 13 November 2010 (vs Manchester United) Ongoing Ongoing Unattached
England Jonathan Hogg 6 December 1988 Midfielder 13 November 2010 (vs Manchester United) 7 0 Huddersfield Town
England Harry Forrester 2 January 1991 Midfielder 11 September 2010 (Scottish Premier League with Kilmarnock) 0 0 Rangers
United States Eric Lichaj 17 November 1988 Defender 19 August 2010 (vs Rapid Vienna) 42 2 Nottingham Forest
Austria Andreas Weimann 5 August 1991 Forward 14 August 2010 (vs West Ham United) 113 17 Derby County & Austria


Player DOB Position First-Team Debut First-Team Appearances First-Team Goals Current Team
England James Collins 1 December 1990 Forward 24 October 2009 (League Two with Darlington F.C.) 0 0 Northampton Town
Republic of Ireland Ciaran Clark 26 September 1989 Defender 30 August 2009 (vs Fulham) 159 10 Newcastle United F.C. & Ireland
Australia Shane Lowry 12 June 1989 Defender 20 August 2009 (vs Rapid Vienna) 3 0 Perth Glory
England Marc Albrighton 18 November 1989 Midfielder 26 February 2009 (vs CSKA Moscow) 101 9 Leicester City
Scotland Barry Bannan 1 December 1989 Midfielder 17 December 2008 (vs Hamburger SV) 83 2 Sheffield Wednesday F.C. & Scotland
England Nathan Delfouneso 2 February 1991 Forward 14 August 2008 (vs FH) 50 9 Blackburn Rovers F.C.
Austria Bobby Olejnik 26 November 1986 Goalkeeper 24 November 2007 (Scottish Premier League with Falkirk F.C.) 0 0 Peterborough United F.C.
Hungary Zoltán Stieber 16 October 1988 Midfielder 24 November 2007 (League Two with Yeovil Town F.C.) 0 0 Hamburger SV & Hungary
England Daniel Sturridge 1 September 1989 Forward 3 February 2007 (Premier League with Manchester City) 0 0 Liverpool F.C.
Republic of Ireland Stephen O'Halloran 29 November 1987 Defender 31 October 2006 (League Two with Wycombe Wanderers) 0 0 Salford City
England Isaiah Osbourne 15 November 1987 Midfielder 21 October 2006 (vs Fulham) 30 0 Walsall
England Gary Cahill 19 December 1985 Defender 1 April 2006 (vs Arsenal) 31 1 Chelsea & England
England Gabriel Agbonlahor 13 October 1986 Forward 18 March 2006 (vs Everton) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
Northern Ireland Jamie Ward 12 May 1986 Striker 7 March 2006 (League Two with Stockport County F.C.) 0 0 Derby County F.C. & Northern Ireland
England Craig Gardner 25 November 1986 Midfielder 26 December 2005 (vs Everton) 80 6 West Bromwich Albion
Northern Ireland Steven Davis 1 January 1985 Midfielder 18 September 2004 (vs Norwich City) 102 9 Southampton & Northern Ireland
Republic of Ireland Wayne Henderson 16 September 1983 Goalkeeper 13 March 2004 (Conference Premier with Tamworth F.C.) 0 0 Retired
England Luke Moore 13 February 1986 Forward 22 February 2004 (vs Birmingham City) 98 14 Toronto F.C.
England Peter Whittingham 8 September 1984 Midfielder 23 April 2003 (vs Newcastle United) 66 2 Cardiff City
England Liam Ridgewell 21 July 1984 Defender 4 January 2003 (vs Blackburn Rovers) 93 7 West Bromwich Albion
Wales Rob Edwards 25 December 1982 Defender 28 December 2002 (vs Middlesbrough) 9 0 Retired
Wales Boaz Myhill 9 November 1982 Goalkeeper 30 November 2002 (Division One with Bradford City F.C.) 0 0 West Bromwich Albion
England Stefan Moore 28 September 1983 Forward 11 September 2002 (vs Charlton Athletic) 30 2 Leamington
Germany Thomas Hitzlsperger 5 April 1982 Midfielder 13 January 2001 (vs Liverpool) 114 12 Retired
England Stephen Cooke 15 February 1982 Midfielder 2 August 2000 (vs Celta de Vigo) 4 0 Pelsall Villa
England Jonathan Bewers 10 September 1982 Defender 15 April 2000 (vs Tottenham Hotspur) 1 0 Retired


Player DOB Position First-Team Debut First-Team Appearances First-Team Goals Current Team
England Aaron Lescott 2 December 1978 Defender 2 January 1999 (vs Hull City) 1 0 Halesowen Town
England Adam Rachel 10 December 1976 Goalkeeper 26 December 1998 (vs Blackburn Rovers) 1 0 Retired
England Tommy Jaszczun 16 September 1977 Defender 28 October 1998 (vs Chelsea) 1 0 Brackley Town
England Darius Vassell 13 June 1980 Forward 23 August 1998 (vs Middlesbrough) 201 45 Unattached
England Gareth Barry 23 February 1981 Midfielder 2 May 1998 (vs Sheffield Wednesday) 441 52 Everton F.C.
Jamaica Darren Byfield 29 September 1979 Forward 28 December 1997 (vs Leeds United) 10 0 Tamworth F.C.
England Richard Walker 8 November 1977 Forward 28 December 1997 (vs Leeds United) 10 2 Beer Albion
England Lee Hendrie 18 May 1977 Midfielder 23 December 1995 (vs Queens Park Rangers) 308 32 Basford United F.C.
Republic of Ireland Gareth Farrelly 28 August 1975 Midfielder 20 September 1995 (vs Peterborough United) 8 0 Retired
England Riccardo Scimeca 13 June 1975 Defender 19 August 1995 (vs Manchester United) 73 2 Retired


  1. ^ "Aston Villa Football Club information". BBC Sport. 1 January 2010. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007. Retrieved 26 June 2007. 
  2. ^ "Premier League Handbook Season 2015/16" (PDF). Premier League. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "Jones: I'll never forget Gabby's performances in Hong Kong Sevens". Aston Villa F.C. Official Website. June 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  4. ^ "Aston Villa Squads - U21". Aston Villa F.C. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Revealed: Aston Villa fan appointed to club's board by Tony Xia". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 28 June 2017.