Aston Villa recently made the club's first signing this January, inking 17-year-old defender Ben Swift to a six-month professional contract that could see him inserted into the U21 set up for the rest of the season with the potential of him signing a long-term contract in the summer.
Alright, so it's not the type of move that will get fans excited and help Villa improve this season or even any time in the near future, but the left-footed central defender (and who doesn't love one of those?) certainly has a believer in his former youth coach Jack Parkinson, who coached him in the academy at seventh-division club Maidstone United.
"Watching him, he reminds me of John Terry in the way he throws himself in the way of shots," Parkinson said of Swift to Kentonline.co.uk. "It doesn't matter what body part it hits...he just wants to stop the ball. If he could do a little bit of work with his feet and distribution, I think he'll make it because he's good in the air and has good size."
Hey, now that doesn't sound too bad, does it? Maybe not quite John Terry just yet but more like a young Ciaran Clark?
Villa's first team certainly isn't lacking depth in the center of defense at the moment with Jores Okore finally healthy and on the way to reaching his potential, Clark playing perhaps the best soccer of his career so far and Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker and Philippe Senderos providing very viable options when healthy.
Even though the acquisition of Swift is clearly a move for the future that may or may not ever result in him lining up in the Villa starting XI, it does at least show that there are youth players out there that still want to come to Bodymoor Heath to develop in the Villa academy.
It hasn't been a great year or so for the Villa youth. The U21 team is really struggling at the moment, having won just two games all season in the reserve league. The U18 squad was recently knocked out of the FA Youth Cup by Chesterfield. And to top it all of, Dan Crowley, the highly rated midfield prospect whose departure from the Villa academy 18 months ago has coincided with its turn for the worse, scored this amazing goal for Arsenal's U21 team on the same night this week that the Villa U21 team was beaten soundly 2-0 by Brighton & Hove Albion.
Hopefully the signing of Swift sparks a surge in the progress of the Villa youth teams.