O’Hare has given boss a big nudge
CALLUM O’Hare responded in the best possible way to being omitted from Villa’s squad to face Blues with a scintillating display for the Under-23s.
O’Hare was left out of the senior squad for the first time since the game at Barnsley in September as Steve Bruce opted for an experienced bench at St Andrew’s.
But the boss will find it hard to leave the youngster out after watching him smash a hat-trick against Newcastle on Monday night.
Jack Grealish and Henri Lansbury, both of whom are direct competitors to O’Hare, were also involved and all three tormented the Magpies as Villa claimed a 6-0 victory.
But it was O’Hare who shone brightest and there is a growing demand for him to be given more first-team minutes.
Despite regularly taking time out to wax lyrically about O’Hare, Bruce has only handed him 43 minutes of Championship action. “You can see Callum O’Hare’s exuberance and energy immediately,” he said.
“You only have to watch him for a few minutes to spot that. When you look at his body language, you can tell he loves the game. His infectious enthusiasm is there for everyone to see. We have been very, very pleased with him.”
Cameos off the bench against Cardiff and Wolves have come as a result of his brilliance in the Carabao Cup. O’Hare was a standout performer in matches against Colchester, Wigan and Middlesbrough to earn a regular place in the squad.
Meanwhile, youngster Jordan Lyden is being tracked by a number of League One clubs ahead of the January transfer window.
The 21-year-old has been in superb form for the Under-23s this season but has seen his first-team opportunities limited.
However, the Aussie midfielder’s five goals in nine appearances for Kevin MacDonald’s development side this season haven’t gone unnoticed.
Blackburn and Northampton watched the Under-23s thrash Newcastle 6-0 on Monday night, while it is understood League One leaders Shrewsbury are also keen admirers.
Lyden recently admitted he would consider a temporary switch away from Villa Park.
Scottish Premiership sides are also looking at Lyden, whose Villa contract expires at the end of next season.
Three Premier League clubs sent scouts to the Banks’s Stadium for another glimpse of MacDonald’s Premier League 2 high-flyers too.
Of Monday night’s starting XI, only goalkeeper Viktor Johansson, 17-year-old Jacob Bedeau and Harry McKirdy, who scored against Newcastle, haven’t made their first-team debuts.
O’Hare and Jake Doyle-Hayes, 18, who was also on target, are now training regularly with the first team and both were rewarded with lucrative new contracts recently.