Aston Villa are seeing the fruits of their academy work this season.

The Villa academy have also emerged as the No 1 ranked in the country in the Premier League Elite Player Performance Plan.

That means the club can recruit any player aged 14 and above from anywhere in the country.

New Aston Villa captain Ciaran Clark said: "That togetherness is something you cannot buy. We have all come up through the youth teams, are good mates and know each other's games inside out. We stick together. We have won the Academy League together, been in the semi-finals of the Youth Cup together and also won the Reserve League a couple of times.

"People have said we have too young a team for the Premier League, but we are one step from Wembley in the League Cup and the way we won at Liverpool proved again that we can play the bigger teams."