It could be Cameron Archer’s time to shine at Aston Villa.
Earlier this week, manager Steven Gerrard made a huge call on the future of the 20-year-old striker amid loan interest from a plethora of Championship clubs.
The likes of Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion, Preston North End and Watford were all mooted with interest in the young Bodymoor Heath talent but now it has been confirmed that Archer will remain part of the first-team set-up at Villa Park.
Speaking to Premier League reporter Rob Scanlon, Gerrard revealed:
“We’ve made a decision with Cameron Archer that he’ll be staying in the door. He will be part of the first team group and he needs to be ready when called upon to contribute to the team”
Aston Villa were widely tipped to be in the market for a new frontman this summer window but now it appears as if the young gem will complete a three-headed attack alongside Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings.
Will Cameron Archer have a breakthrough season?
Watch out Danny Ings
Archer, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at Deepdale last season, could put further pressure on Villa’s £25m signing to deliver, with Watkins seemingly the first choice for the role.
In 20 second-flight appearances, the Villa loanee found the net seven times, taking his total for the 2021/22 campaign to 20 goals in 33 appearances across all competitions, including four goals across two EFL Cup matches under Dean Smith.
Ings, meanwhile, has somewhat failed to deliver since his big-money move from the south coast. He failed to hit double-figure returns in the Premier League last term, managing just seven goals in 30 matches.
It was the first time since 2018/19 that the 30-year-old failed to surpass 12 league goals.
Perhaps there are signs of him regressing or maybe it boils down to the system – either way, Archer now has a genuine opportunity to stake a claim and dethrone the former Liverpool and Southampton talisman.
“Absolute goal machine” is how Birmingham Mail reporter Ashley Preece described the Villa talent back in February, whilst Ings himself waxed lyrical about the 20-year-old’s ability during their recent pre-season trip to Australia.
“Everybody has seen how talented he is in front of goal,” he said.
“He’s come back from a fantastic loan and looks super sharp; great finisher, great lad. He always wants to learn which, for me, is probably the best thing for a young striker.”
Competition for places is certainly a healthy part of any successful squad and in Archer, Villa could have a real star of the future.
Don’t be surprised if he’s breaking into the starting lineup to become something of a first-team regular like his former academy teammate Jacob Ramsey.