Michael Drennan

Michael Drennan

When Michael Drennan began his academy scholarship with Villa, academy manager Bryan Jones described the Irishman as a striker who "scores goals for fun."

The hotshot from Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland was red hot in front of goal again during 2012-13, spearheading Villa's attack in the NextGen Series and the U21 league.

Drennan scored six times in 11 appearances for the U21s, including a stunning hat-trick at Sunderland in February.

But his finest moments came on the European stage during Villa's triumphant run to NextGen glory.

Drennan finished as the competition's second highest scorer with six goals.

However, the Ireland U19 forward suffered a foot injury in the last 16 victory over Ajax and missed the quarter-final, semi-final and final.

The striker's success in 2012-13 was a continuation of the excellent progress he had made during his first two years at the club.

The previous season, he was on target five times in 13 appearances for the reserves.

Drennan finished 2011 strongly with a goal in the second string's 2-1 win over Swansea City and he started 2012 in the same vein by finding the target in a 1-1 draw against Arsenal.

It was a superb brace from Drennan in a 2-0 win at Sunderland that clinched Villa's fourth Barclays Premier Reserve League South crown in the space of five years.

He followed that up by netting yet again in the reserve team's final regular league season fixture at Fulham.

Drennan also featured four times in the 2011-12 NextGen Series, scoring at Villa Park in the 4-1 win over Norwegian side Rosenborg.

In the quarter-final stages of the prestigious European tournament, Drennan came close to firing Villa to glory against Marseille but his extra-time effort was harshly ruled out for offside.

The Republic of Ireland U19 international began his academy scholarship in 2010-11.

He immediately demonstrated his impressive goalscoring knack by bagging 10 goals in the Barclays Premier Academy League and once for the reserves.

That strike for the second string in the early-season win over Blackpool was particularly memorable - a delicate chip over the goalkeeper just moments after coming on as a substitute.

Drennan, who had huge potential as a hurling player before heading to England to pursue his Premier League dream, also made a big impression on the international stage.

He scored goals for Ireland U16s against Israel and Denmark at the end of 2009 before hitting a hat-trick against the Czech Republic.

The talented forward went on to receive Ireland's U16 player of the year award and was later called up to the U17 side for the European Championship Elite qualification group.

Drennan turned 17 in February 2011 and celebrated his birthday by singing his first professional contract with Villa.

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