Football Expert & Columnist
Fabian Delph should be on England's radar, says Jamie Carragher
Fabian Delph's energy and left foot could be of real use to England's midfield, says Jamie Carragher.
Last Updated: 13/12/13 9:58am
There doesn't appear to be as much money at the club as there has been in the past so Paul Lambert has had to give youngsters a go but he's got a lot of talent at his disposal.
We are used to seeing Villa contest in the latter stages of the Youth Cup - they've won it three times and got to the final on a further three occasions - which shows their academy is very strong, and players like Nathan Baker and Ciaran Clark are now established in the first team.
However, one of Villa's outstanding players over the last 18 months has been Fabian Delph and there's no reason he can't force his way into England's plans, something his manager has made a note of recently.
Delph is playing every week for a big club, whereas some players in Roy Hodgson's squad aren't, so I would be surprised if Roy and his staff are not looking closely at him as the World Cup approaches, even though Brazil might come a bit too early.
He gives a side real energy and aggression and, because he is left-footed, offers you nice balance in the middle of the park, while he has strike on him, too.
He ticks a lot of boxes and if he concentrates on his game and not the form of the players he is competing with for a place in England's squad, he might sneak in - but it might take something special for an uncapped player at this stage to board the plane.
There is always change after a big tournament, though, and so Delph's real chance could come heading towards the Euros in 2016, but, of course, he will have to maintain his form for Aston Villa.
Gabriel Agbonlahor might be looking to the World Cup as well but when you get your chance at international level - he has three caps at this moment - you really have to take your opportunity.
It is rare for someone to play for England, disappear for a bit and then come back again but maybe Roy will think he can do a job in Brazil because he is quite a versatile player in that he can play as a winger or up front and has bundles of pace.
Lambert's philosophy at Villa, meanwhile, has been to draft in youth players as well as give guys from the lower leagues - such as Ashley Westwood and Matthew Lowton - their chance in the big time, and that's something football purists like to see.
But, of course, you have to get results as well and after a tricky period last year when they were getting beaten most weeks, they are doing that now, albeit more on the road than at home.
Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward so while last season we looked at Villa and thought they should be in a stronger mid-table position, perhaps they needed a bit of a struggle.
Their form this campaign seems to suggest that, as they have got great wins over Arsenal, Man City and Southampton, but I still think they could do with a bit more quality in the squad if they want to really push on.
I guess another bonus, though, is that Villa have picked up results without Christian Benteke playing a massive part.
He scored twice against Arsenal on the opening day but hasn't quite hit the heights he did in his debut season just yet, although he was always bound to have a bit of a lull at some stage.
However, he is the talisman and I think the fact he signed a new five-year contract in the summer and didn't move on gave his team-mates a massive lift and showed that, despite a possible lack of finance, they are playing for an ambitious side.
But Villa - who I think would be delighted with a top-10 finish this season - will be mindful that unless they start climbing up that table and pushing for honours and the European spots then other clubs will look at Benteke, Delph and co and try to prise them away.
So to get back in and around the top six is important in that respect, but also because they are one of the biggest clubs in the country and belong in that environment.