Academy graduate keen to repay faith

Aston Villa
Keinan Davis

Aston Villa academy graduate Keinan Davis has vowed to repay the faith shown in him by manager Dean Smith.

The 21-year-old came through Villa’s academy system to earn his senior debut in the FA Cup against Tottenham in January 2017.

He made his league bow just days later against Wolves in the Championship, coming off the bench in a 1-0 loss to Wolves, after impressing boss Steve Bruce.

Davis went on to make six substitute appearances in the league over the course of 2016-17 and he played a bigger role the following campaign.

After three seasons in the first-team fold, he boasts 39 league appearances, netting twice, but he felt a loan move away could be on the cards following promotion to the Premier League.

The striker fell down the pecking order last season following the arrival of Tammy Abraham on loan from Chelsea, however, he did force his way back in during the latter stages.

Smith, who took over from Bruce in October, urged Davis to stay put at Villa Park for 2019-20 and he has already rewarded him with minutes.

The Stevenage-born youngster came off the bench to make his Premier League debut against Bournemouth, while he started Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over Crewe in the League Cup and he insists he is eager to repay the manager’s faith.

“In the transfer window he (Smith) told me he wanted me to stay, which gave me massive confidence, and now I’m trying to repay him with my performances,” Davis said.

“But he kept on reassuring me, telling me ‘Stay and you’ll play’. I had to trust him. He reassured me so it was all good in the end.

“He’s given me an opportunity, now I have to prove myself to him.”

Villa splashed the cash this summer to reinforce for their top-flight return with Ā£22million handed over to sign Wesley Moraes from Club Brugge.

But Smith still believes Davis has a role to play and was full of praise following his first goal for almost 20 months at Gresty Road.

Smith said: “Keinan is a handful. I don’t think there are too many centre-halves in any league who would want to play against him.

“He is physical, strong, and I was really pleased he got his goal. At times, that’s the only thing that’s missing from his appearances.”

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