Villa’s youngsters begin their FA Youth Cup campaign tonight and assistant academy manager Sean Verity says the experience is crucial to the squad’s development.
The Young Lions face Bristol City at Ashton Gate in a third round tie, kick-off 7pm.
In previous years, Villa have fared well in the prestigious competition - reaching the final in 2010 and the semi-final in 2011.
Last season, the young guns recorded some memorable results against Everton and Crystal Palace before narrowly losing out to Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park in the fifth round.
They make the trip having lost just once in their last seven Premier Academy League outings.
Although he can sense and understands the excitement and anticipation within the claret and blue camp, Verity, who will be taking the team this evening, urged the Young Lions to play the game and not the occasion.
He said: “We’ll be playing at a different stadium which will be a good experience for the lads.
“Bristol are a big club, same as us in the Championship, so from that perspective it’s a good game.
“The game tonight is all about their development. A very important one too.
“They get to play at a League ground and experience how that feels.
“It’ll be in front of a crowd and sometimes you might not be able to hear your team-mates or coaches which is not how it is on a Saturday.
“The lads see it as the pinnacle in the year.
“For us it’s just another game and part of the process of their learning.
“They hold it in really high esteem.
“When the draw came out they were all tweeting each other about it.
“From our point of view, we’re trying to play it down and it’s part of the process of their learning.
“I think in our terms, it was probably how we held the FA Cup back in the day.
“Everybody used to watch the FA Cup final from 9am in the morning until it finished.
“I think the lads still see it as that and it’s their one real cup competition which is understandably important to them.”
A combination of loan moves, injuries and suspensions has seen a number of U18 regulars, including defender Mitch Clark [pictured above] feature in and be part of the club’s U23 matchday squads.
Similarly, a host of U16 players, including Jake Walker and Dominic Revan represented the U18s as they recorded back-to-back 1-1 draws over Arsenal and Southampton at Bodymoor Heath last week.
Verity is understandably pleased with the progression and also declared himself satisfied with the U18s’ 2016/17 season to date.
He added: “The season so far has been about building blocks, trying to play the football that we want to play, pass the ball through the team and the lads have responded well to that.
“It always takes a while to get that message over but now I think that message is getting across.
“It’s been good for our young players to play more open age football at U23 level.
“It’s really pleasing.
“The main aim of the job is to make sure they get a good grounding at U18 level and learn the game.”
Entry at Ashton Gate is pay on the gate and priced at £3 [adults] and £1 [O65s/U18s]