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Steven Gerrard: Aston Villa need to let Carney Chukwuemeka evolve

Villa boss Steven Gerrard has told Carney Chukwuemeka he will remain in his first-team set-up if he keeps performing.

Aston Villa's Carney Chukwuemeka (left)
Aston Villa's Carney Chukwuemeka (left)

The 18-year-old came on as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat against Manchester City on Wednesday, after reports that the youngster was planning to reject a new contract at the club amid concerns over breaking into the first XI.

And Gerrard insisted Villa is the right place for the youngster to develop, stating: “I think we just need to let the kid play football, let him evolve, let him grow.

“I think we’ve shown what we think of the kid (on Wednesday night), shown our belief and confidence in him at this level of game. “You can see the profile and talent but my job an the staff’s job is to put everything around that talent to get better and grow and get a better game understanding.

“But we believe this is the right place for him and if anyone else thinks it’s not I’d like to sit in front of them and discuss that because he’s a local lad and he’s enjoying it.” The boss added: “He’s enjoyed the last two weeks – I spoke to him face-to-face and we’ve told him that if he keeps performing he’ll be very much part of the first team set-up so I don’t foresee a problem and I certainly don’t want a problem to brew in the background. And, for me, I don’t think it will.”

Chukwuemeka almost grabbed a share of the points late on when he forced a stunning save from Ederson late on.

And Gerrard said: “It would have been too good to be true, you call on a young kid who’s 18 and a big moment comes his way.

“But the reason we put him on is because we believe in him and we trust him.

“He’s a fantastic talent and there’s still a lot of growth and evolving for him to do and it’s important that we give him that support and we give him the environment to keep evolving in.

“But you can see his profile, you can see his quality – it didn’t faze him when he came on. I know he’ll think about that chance all night long because I’ve been there myself but he’ll score many goals for Aston Villa, he’ll create many goals because he’s that type of talent.

“I think we showed out trust and our belief in him by calling upon him because it was a big substitution but we believed he would get that opportunity.”

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