Gabby Agbonlahor has tipped Aston Villa to hand Carney Chukwuemeka his first-team debut before the end of the season.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Villa captain backed Dean Smith to pick the right game to give the 17-year-old his first taste of senior action.
Football Insider understands Bayern Munich are in pole position ahead of other elite clubs for his signature with his Villa future far from secure.
The midfielder signed a three-year deal last October, the maximum length for a 17-year-old, and Villa will attempt to secure him to a longer contract after his 18th birthday later this year.
Asked whether giving him a taste of Premier League action could convince him to snub any potential interest, Agbonlahor told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley: “That will be in Aston Villa’s mind.
“The owner, the chief executive, the manager will all be speaking about it because it’s different now, football. A lot of young players who have got serious talent hold a lot of the power.
“They’ll know they’ll have to give him his debut before the end of the season maybe. When you’re such a talent like that you don’t want a player like that to seek opportunities elsewhere.
“I’m sure Aston Villa will decide the right game. You’ve got to choose the right game for such a young player to make his debut.
“I’m sure Dean Smith will make the right decision because Aston Villa will want to keep onto their best talents.”
Villa have five Premier League games left to play as they look to secure a top-half finish for the first time in a decade.
They host Manchester United and Everton then travel to Crystal Palace and Tottenham before finishing the season at Villa Park with a game against Chelsea.