Aston Villa View 7th Title As Soccer Sevens Returns

Aston Villa setting sights on seventh title as HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens returns

Aston Villa.

Six times champions Aston Villa will travel to Hong Kong for the 2023 edition of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens looking to reclaim the title the club last won in 2016 while showcasing the latest crop of youngsters to emerge from one of the Premier League's finest academies.

Coach Dan Green will bring his squad to Hong Kong Football Club targeting the Villa Park outfit's seventh title as the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens returns on May 26 for the first time since 2019 following an enforced hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Villa have been drawn in Group A alongside Scottish Premiership side Rangers, runners-up the last time the event was held, as well as Tai Po FC and Yau Yee League Select and Green is relishing the opportunity to take to the field at Sports Road once again.

"The reputation of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens and the experiences that we as a club have had in the past create great excitement for the competition and the opportunities that it provides," says Green.

"We are constantly looking to stretch and challenge our players and this tournament certainly provides a high quality and varied set of challenges.

"From the opposition and format to the conditions and fans in the stadium, we feel this is an outstanding way to round off this season with an experience that we hope the players will look back on with great memories."

Aston Villa have a history of fielding future Premier League stars among their line-up at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens, with current Manchester City forward Jack Grealish among those to have starred for the club at the event in the past.

Others to have graduated to the senior side include Gabriel Agbonlahor and Barry Bannan, who were named the Player of the Tournament in 2006 and 2008 respectively, and Green will be fielding a side that features players avid English football watchers will recognise.

"We would love to think that all of our players will bring excitement to the fans watching," he says.

"Some that they may have heard of from their first team involvement would be the likes of Josh Feeney, Omari Kellyman, Travis Patterson, Tommi O'Reilly and Kadan Young, who will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous Aston Villa players who have come to the tournament and performed to a high level."

Newcastle United are the reigning HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens champions and they will face former winners Leicester City in Group C alongside Hong Kong Football Club and the HKFC Captain's Select.

Group B, meanwhile, features Fulham, Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee, MUST CPK and Singapore Football Club and the line-up for the Main Event is completed by Brighton & Hove Albion, Queens Park Rangers, Hong Kong, China U22 Representative Team and Singapore Cricket Club, who will face off in Group D.

"We're looking forward to going out there, it's certainly a life experience for the boys," says Brighton's under 21 head coach Shannon Ruth. "It's a tournament we're eager to do well in, it finishes our season off in a positive way.

"We're looking to see the players experience something different, seeing how they adapt to the conditions and all the different things that are thrown their way by this tournament.

"It's a unique tournament in terms of the regulations, the size of the pitch and all the things that come with playing in Hong Kong in the heat and humidity. We're looking to challenge the players.

"Some of these players wouldn't have travelled to Hong Kong before and experienced a different culture and that's certainly an experience you don't forget."

The Masters Tournament will kick off proceedings at Sports Road on May 26, with the Citi All Stars looking to reclaim the title in that event after losing out in the 2019 final to Wallsend Boys Club.

Former Fulham midfielder Sean Davis will captain a team selected by the Professional Footballers' Association that also features ex-Tottenham Hotspur right-back Pascal Chimbonda and Jamie Lawrence, a League Cup winner with Leicester City in 1997.

Play in the Main Event will begin on May 27 with matches running throughout until May 28.

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