Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has heaped the praise on young Tim Iroegbunam and claimed he and his staff ‘think the world of him.’
Iroegbunam was part of the Villa squad that drew 0-0 away at Leicester City on Saturday and was brought on as Gerrard’s first substitute on the day, replacing Douglas Luiz after 75 minutes.
It was just the second Premier League appearance of the season for the 18-year-old but he slotted in to the middle of the park like a seasoned veteran.
His cameo didn’t go unnoticed versus the Foxes either with the manager picking up on the ‘calmness and maturity’ of his display whilst also pointing to him as a model professional with the way he carries himself off the field.
“Tim Iroegbunam, I’ve spoken before about, he was the most ready to come in and help us,” Gerrard said.
“Dougie was on a yellow card and I didn’t want to go down to 10 men because it was important we stopped the losing run, it was important we kept a clean sheet and I thought Tim was terrific today.
“He played with calmness and maturity and he’s going to be looking at me all week for more game time now.
“He’s a top professional. He’s in the gym before training, he’s in the gym after.
“He needs to come out of his shell, he needs to find his voice because now he’s in men’s football and we think the world of him, he’s got a big future here.
“But it’s my job to keep managing his game time, to prepare him for a big career.”
It must have been music to the ears of the teenager hearing his manager - one of the very best in the world in that position during his own career - speak so highly of him.
And Gerrard went on to praise him even further whilst also taking a moment to emphasise once again his desire to bring youth through, claiming that they will get their opportunity if they show they want it.
“The academy have done a superb job on Tim and he’s got a lot of attributes that will help Aston Villa moving forward,” he added.
“We trust Tim. We trust that we’ve got enough talent and we’ll give them a pathway. We’ll guarantee them a pathway if they are as prepared and ready as Tim is.
“Tim played 90 minutes behind closed doors around the Easter period so it’s not as if he’s come in unprepared but I thought he looked like a season pro out there for 20 minutes.
“It was a difficult game to come into. The momentum changed when Jamie Vardy came on, that’s the impact he has here but I thought we kept him as quiet as we can and Tim certainly helped us do that.”
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