Di Matteo not afraid to play youngsters

12 Jul

Roberto Di Matteo


Roberto Di Matteo replaced Remi Garde as permanent Aston Villa boss in June 2016

Aston Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo says he is not afraid to give youngsters a proper opportunity to impress in the Championship this season.

The Italian is hoping to guide Villa to an immediate return to the Premier League following relegation last term.

“I’m not shy of giving a young player a chance if he deserves it,” the 46-year-old told BBC WM.

“In my past I’ve always worked with young players and we certainly have some talented youngsters at the club.”

The Midlands club gave Premier League debuts to 17-year-old winger Andre Green, midfielder Jordan Lyden, 20, and 19-year-old defender Kevin Toner last season.

But Di Matteo, who has already signed two 21-year-olds in Reading midfielder Aaron Tshibola and Italian goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini this summer, knows he faces a delicate balancing act between blooding inexperienced players and getting the results needed to sustain a promotion challenge.

“It’s a results-driven business and the results need to be there but I’m not afraid of that,” the former Chelsea and West Brom boss said.

“We’ll be looking to progress our young players and helping them develop.”

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (left)<!–

Striker Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (left) became Aston Villa’s youngest-ever Premer League player when he was given his debut at the age of 16 by then boss Tim Sherwood against Sunderland in March 2015

‘Play’ your way out of the Championship

As Villa prepare for their first season outside the top flight since 1987, Di Matteo is already laying the foundations for the way he wants his side to play.

Although he admits the physical nature of the Championship will pose a different kind of problem, he is sure success can be achieved with a bit of style.

“Absolutely – we’re looking to play our football on the ground and pass the ball,” he said.

“In any division you can do it – it’s a matter of believing in what you do and do it in the best way.”

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