Caleb Chukwuemeka: How John McGinn persuaded Aston Villa striker to join Livingston on loan

Caleb Chukwuemeka jumped at the chance to join Livingston on loan following an endorsement from Aston Villa team-mate John McGinn.

By Gavin McCafferty
Monday, 17th January 2022, 7:42 pm

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Caleb Chukwuemeka is looking forward to getting started at Livingston
Caleb Chukwuemeka is looking forward to getting started at Livingston

The former St Mirren and Hibs midfielder told Chukwuemeka to use the cinch Premiership to raise his profile and improve his game and the 19-year-old forward could make his debut against Dundee on Tuesday.

Villa boss Steven Gerrard recommended the former Northampton player to Livi boss David Martindale and Chukwuemeka aims to make the most of his spell in Scotland.

Chukwuemeka said: "The gaffer didn't speak to me but he was in touch with the gaffer here and they were asking whether I would cope and how I would play. So he and John McGinn were key factors in me coming here.

"I feel, to take my game to the next level, the exposure and experiences this league brings will definitely help.

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"John McGinn was saying that the standard is very high in Scotland. Some people might underestimate the league but he told me to expect the unexpected and make sure I am ready."

The teenager made his Villa debut in an EFL Cup tie against Barrow and has scored seven goals for the under-23s since his summer move from Northampton, where he played 28 times.

"Ever since I got to Villa I have been learning," he said. "It's obviously different in terms of the level, Northampton to Aston Villa is a lot higher. But I have adapted and learned quickly. I have to keep striving and see where it takes me.

"I feel I have come to Villa and done well, now I want to take my game to the next level in terms of men's football and hopefully get Livingston higher up the table."

Martindale has another new option up front after summer signing Joel Nouble finished a successful loan spell with Arbroath.

"They are both different to what's in the building and I am looking forward to seeing how that transpires," Martindale said.

"Big Caleb probably sees himself more as a winger but Aston Villa see him as a nine so that is going to be a developmental process, I need to work with Caleb on that. But he can play anywhere across the front three.

"He has come up here with massive potential. There is an adaptation period attached to that, he is only 19.

"Joel previously plied his trade as a left-winger and I said to him that I saw him more as a nine and when he goes on loan that's where he will be playing.

"It has worked perfectly for ourselves, Joel and Arbroath. It feels like a new signing, albeit he has been training with us for six months. It should be a fluid transition.

"He is up to speed now and that's predominantly down to Joel but it's a massive thanks to Arbroath."

Martindale has also added Liverpool loan defender Morgan Boyes this month and is looking for a goalkeeper with on-loan Norwich player Daniel Barden recovering from cancer treatment.

"There is maybe going to be one or two leaving the building but that is going to be with them chapping my door as opposed to me pulling them in the office," he said.

"There will be one or two looking for more game time. That might push me back into the market and I am actively pursuing another goalkeeper.

"Daniel's chemotherapy has come through and he has got the all-clear but he is probably going to be 12-16 weeks before he can return to first-team football so I need to bring someone in to challenge Max (Stryjek)."

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