Aston Villa’s play-off hopes were dealt another major blow on Saturday after suffering a 2-0 defeat to West Brom at Villa Park.
Having gone down by two goals before half-time already, it appeared that manager Dean Smith might have started planning for next season after handing teenager Jacob Ramsey his debut in the second-half.
The 17-year-old replaced Conor Hourihane in the 60th minute of the match and provided a solid cameo under the circumstances of the match.
Villa were throwing everything at West Brom towards the final stages of the match and the midfielder looked comfortable in the attacking position with some swift passing and good link-up play.
The defeat means Villa are currently tenth in the Championship but are level on points with Preston, Hull City and Swansea City, having played one more match than the Tigers and the Swans. It will require something truly special from Villa to turn their campaign around and make one final push for promotion.
The unlikelihood of that happening means the manager could start using youngsters like Ramsey more often now in order for such players to gain valuable experience and become comfortable with the pace of the league.
Ramsey has had a good season from a personal perspective and has been a key player in the u-18 and u-23 teams.
He’s been composed in front of goal and has shown the ability to find players in better positions on the pitch.
He was also clinical in the two matches he played in the FA Youth Cup against Swansea City and Reading, scoring a total of four goals.
Ramsey’s substitution came ahead of first-team players like Jonathan Kodjia, Albert Adomah and Anwar El Ghazi, who were all available on the bench.
This could indicate Smith’s plans to ease Ramsey into the first-team and let him show his worth in the final stages of the season.