By Villa News Speaking to Dan Bardell

26th Jul, 2023 | 7:10am

Sky Sports journalist: 'Time is right' for Cameron Archer to make Aston Villa impact amid Ollie Watkins claim

We’re delighted to welcome Sky Sports journalist Dan Bardell as our exclusive Aston Villa columnist each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at the club…

Cameron Archer is set to be Aston Villa’s second-choice striker next season after his “encouraging” loan spells and prolific goalscoring record, according to Dan Bardell.

Villa only had Ollie Watkins last season as their only out-and-out striker while Archer was on loan to Middlesbrough and with the club not looking to sign a new striker, the youngster now has the opportunity to prove himself at the top level while challenging Watkins.

Archer has been impactful throughout his career at each level he has played, most notably last season in the Championship where he earned 11 goals and six assists in just 20 appearances after joining Boro in January.

Bardell now claims that “the time is right” for Archer to challenge Watkins for the striker position as he is set to gain plenty of minutes under Unai Emery next season.

Speaking exclusively to Villa News, Bardell said: “It looks like the decision has been made to keep Cameron Archer in the squad.

“If Villa were now linked with a player with his goals and assists record in the Championship, you’d think that’s interesting and exciting. So to already have that player in the squad ready to go and be integrated into the first team is a real plus.

“I think he’s passed every test in front of him. He’s scored at every single level that he’s played, including the England under-21s, he’s scored in the Championship and even when he’s played for Villa in cup competitions.

“The time is right for him to be a first-team member. Villa kind of play with two up front, but even though it’s two it’s only really one striker that plays. It’s Watkins or usually John McGinn, Leon Bailey or Emi Buendia who usually line up next to him.

“I think he’s now in competition with Watkins. If you look at what Emery has done to Watkins and if you look at Archer’s potential and natural raw finishing ability, he is a goal scorer.

“He scores every kind of finish and he comes alive in and around the box. It’s really encouraging that he got so many assists at Middlesbrough and got around 20 goal contributions. He was only there for the second half of the season too, so that’s some record to have.

“The time is right to be integrated, but he’s got to earn his place in the team. He’ll have plenty of games and he’ll get plenty of minutes. It will be good for Watkins to have someone breathing down his neck as well.

“Watkins was exceptional in the second half of last season, but Villa were only an injury away from having no striker at all. Having another proper striker there with the pedigree of Archer, it’s a really good thing and I’m excited to see what he does this season.

“I don’t think Villa will go for another striker. They’ll sign one or two forward players, but I don’t think they’ll be natural strikers. Archer is that second striker to Watkins now.

In other Aston Villa news, Bardell has hinted at potential tactical changes at Villa Park after the signing of Pau Torres.