By Jonty Banks

17th Mar, 2023 | 5:10pm

Tommi O'Reilly can live up to Phil Foden nickname and rise the ranks at Aston Villa

Tommi O’Reilly is the latest Aston Villa youngster to rise through the ranks at the Bodymoor Heath academy and he possesses the ability to live up to his billing as the next Phil Foden.

The 19-year-old attacking midfielder has taken the Aston Villa youth setup by storm this season, with his silky skills and pin-point passing earning himself the nickname “little Phil Foden” amongst academy staff.

After joining the West Midlands club as a scholar in July 2020, the technical left-footed midfielder has moved from strength to strength for the Young Lions, netting five goals and providing three assists from 15 appearances this term.

Having made the step up from the Under-18s to the Under-21s look like a mere formality over the last 12 months, O’Reilly is ready for the next stage of his career, where he can hopefully fill the big shoes that Manchester City playmaker Foden has left in his wake in the Premier League.

Although O’Reilly is still in the infant years of his career and isn’t likely to make a permanent impact on Unai Emery’s first-team squad, the signs are promising for a long and successful career at Villa Park.

The playmaker was cherry-picked by Villa’s sporting director Johan Lange as a future star after bursting onto the scene as a scholar, and he has subsequently moved through the ranks at a rapid rate.

Last season O’Reilly was granted a spot in the match-day squads against Brighton and Southampton by Steven Gerrard before being granted a first professional contract in the West Midlands last March.

The academy player is yet to make an impact on Emery’s first-team squad since the Spaniard took the reins at Villa Park in October, but it is surely only a matter of time until he breaks through.

With Philippe Coutinho’s long-term future at the club unclear, and the likes of Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore also doubtful to remain at the club for many more years, the door could well open for O’Reilly to step through.

In other Aston Villa news, Dan Bardell admits one Villa loanee has “no pathway” under Unai Emery, with a recent signing being the final blow.