By Amir Mir

Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo has given academy graduates Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Andre Green and Harry McKirdy an opportunity to train with the first team.

The Midlands club began pre-season on Wednesday as they prepare for life in the second tier of English football for the first time in nearly three decades.

As reported by the Birmingham Mail, Di Matteo was keen to give the forwards an opportunity for the first-team as he signals his intent of giving youth a chance for the forthcoming Championship campaign.

It is said that the youngsters have looked sharp in training as Di Matteo and his backroom staff step up intensity ahead of a gruelling Championship season.

The 17-year-old duo of Hepburn-Murphy and Andre Green played the last game of the 2015-16 season, with 19-year-old McKirdy yet to make his senior debut and after routine tests with the development squad on Monday, all three were told to join up with the first-team squad as they returned on Wednesday.

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Hepburn-Murphy is the club’s youngest-ever Premier League player when he made his debut aged 17, away at Sunderland in 2015 under the stewardship of then-manager Tim Sherwood.

The news of Villa’s new manager giving youth a chance will be a huge boost to the Villa faithful as they look for instant promotion back to the top flight of English football.

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