Steven Gerrard has told Jacob Ramsey the sky is the limit after the midfielder was named Villa players’ player of the season.
The 20-year-old also scooped the club’s young player of the season award to cap a superb individual campaign in which he has established himself as a first-team regular.
Ramsey, who is available for Sunday’s visit of Crystal Palace after missing the last two matches through injury, has scored six goals in 31 appearances and been touted by Gerrard as a future England international.
The Villa boss said: “He should take big belief and confidence from the awards.
“JJ is the driver of his own future, he can be what he wants to be. It’s my job to keep him grounded and humble and keep pushing him hard, provoking him and challenging him and shaping him, and that’s what we’ll give him. We’ll give him all the support that he needs.
“But you know, the next 15 years, he’s the driver of how he wants his career to look. He’s a big, big talent and it’s no surprise that he won both awards because since I came in the door he’s definitely been one of the most consistent players in our group.”
Matty Cash was voted supporters’ player of the season, with Ramsey topping the poll conducted by his team-mates.
Gerrard continued: “They are with him every single day, competing either on his team in training or against him in training.
“They are seeing him in the games, what he’s contributing at such a young age. He’s robust. This injury is the first little niggle he’s had.
“I actually think his body is getting stronger and better by the week. Normally it takes a period of time but he’s getting stronger, more powerful as the weeks go by and I think the players are experiencing that up close. I’m certainly experiencing it. He’s only going to get better too and that’s the most exciting thing for me.”
Top scorer Ollie Watkins is a doubt for Villa with a knock sustained in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool. Gerrard is hopeful the striker will return to training on Saturday.
Villa sit a point and a place behind Palace in the table and know a victory would significantly boost their chances of a first top half finish since 2011.
“In my shoes, there’s always got to be a purpose and importance to every single game,” said Gerrard. “We’re representing Aston Villa, we’ve got 20,000 people waiting to have a season ticket in the stadium – you saw the atmosphere the other night – and they’re paying good money to come and support the team.
“There’s always a purpose for the supporters, but also for self-pride, for your own drive. You’ve got to have that drive inside you to compete every time you go onto a football pitch. For me, it’s extremely important that we finish the season strongly in the last three games.”