By Jonty Banks

26th May, 2023 | 7:10am

Barry Bannan 2.0 on the cards for Aston Villa as Tommi O'Reilly given golden opportunity

Tommi O’Reilly has been awarded a golden opportunity to take the next step in his career and become the new Barry Bannan at Aston Villa.

The club announced on Thursday morning (25 May) that O’Reilly and nine other academy players would be travelling to Hong Kong to compete in the renowned Soccer Sevens tournament.

The team consists of players from the Under-21 and Under-18 sides, and the academy cohort will attempt to win the competition for a seventh time – with the club’s most recent victory coming in 2016.

Plenty of successful Aston Villa players have made a name for themselves at the Soccer Sevens tournament before ascending into the fist-team ranks, with Gabby Agbonlahor and Barry Bannan just a couple who have scooped up silverware at this prestigious event.

And after an impressive season at Bodymoor Heath, this is the perfect opportunity for O’Reilly to follow in Bannan’s footsteps.

The 19-year-old attacking midfielder has taken the youth setup by storm since being cherry-picked by sporting director Johan Lange as a scholar, with his silky skills and footwork earning himself the nickname “little Phil Foden” amongst academy staff [The Athletic].

In a similar style to Bannan, O’Reilly is a technically gifted left-footed midfielder who according to Aston Villa’s official website, “specialises at creating and scoring goals”.

So far this term, the gem has netted five goals and provided four assists from just 17 appearances for the Young Lions, a trait which former Villan Bannan has exemplified throughout his 15-year professional career.

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. 

A strong showing in the upcoming Soccer Sevens tournament could do just the trick.

In other Aston Villa news, a three-man La Liga blitz may be on the cards amid a potential reunion for Emery.