Jones predicts exciting NextGen campaign ahead of Lisbon clash
Bryan Jones is predicting a fiercely competitive NextGen Series campaign for Villa as they prepare to face much-fancied Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday.
Jones believes Villa will come up against one of the classiest teams in the competition in the first Group 4 clash at Villa Park next week.
But the academy manager has backed the club's future stars to hold their own in a tough group which also features Celtic and PSV Eindhoven.
Villa and Sporting Lisbon were among the tournament's strongest sides last season, having reached the quarter-finals after topping their respective groups.
"It is a very tough group but we are really looking forward to it," said Jones.
"Sporting Lisbon were one of the classier sides in the tournament last season and most of those players are still available.
"Having Celtic in the group also gives it a bit of a British feel and we haven't played them other than at the Hong Kong Sevens.
"PSV are one of the top Dutch clubs so it is going to be a really good test."
Villa will once again look to blend first and second year scholars with more established reserve team stars in this year's competition.
While the likes of Gary Gardner and Daniel Johnson were pivotal to the club's progress in 2011-12, impressive contributions were also made by 16-year-olds Josh Webb, Callum Robinson and Jack Grealish.
"We showed last year we can be very competitive in this tournament and we will be looking to do the same again," added Jones.
"Some of our players will have a year's experience under their belts but as you've seen before we like to try and give opportunities to a few of the younger ones too."
See Villa's three NextGen Series home games against Sporting Lisbon, Celtic and PSV at a bargain price - click here.
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