Lewis Kinsella broke into the Aston Villa match-day squad for the first time last month and now the boy from Watford is hoping a loan spell at Luton Town will help him secure a new contract at Villa Park.

Kinsella, who grew up in north Watford, has been with Aston Villa since he was released by Arsenal as a 16-year-old and impressed new manager Tim Sherwood enough to be included on the bench for three consecutive games in the Premier League and FA Cup last month.

But Kinsella and Sherwood were keen for the 20-year-old to secure regular football to enhance his development and prove himself as he attempts to secure a new contract, with his current deal set to expire in the summer.

Kinsella said: “I will be in a stronger position when I go back [to Aston Villa] because I will have been out on loan, hopefully I’ll have had some game time and I will be able to say ‘look this is what I can do’ and hopefully they will offer me an improved contract.”

Having been an unused Villa replacement for their games with West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Swansea City at the start of March, the left-back joined Luton on loan until the end of the season two weeks ago and made his professional debut during the League Two club’s 2-1 defeat to Northampton Town.

“It was an unbelievable experience; to finally see your name on the back of the shirt and to play in front of a lot of people; it was everything I wanted,” the defender said.

Kinsella has been plying his trade in the development leagues for the last four years and was part of the Villa side which also won youth football’s version of the Champions League, the NextGen Series, in 2013.

The former Cherrytree Primary School and Francis Combe Academy pupil recognises the importance of his football has just gone up a notch. His teammates are no longer focused on their own personal development, they are fighting for their livelihoods.

It is easy to see why Kinsella has impressed Sherwood, who is another local lad having grown up in Borehamwood and started his career at Watford. His positive attitude and character shone through early on during his interview with the Watford Observer.

He said: “Obviously sitting on the bench at Villa in the Premier League and the FA Cup is a great experience and I do love that. But I am a footballer at the end of the day. Sometimes when I am just sitting there not playing then I feel like I’m not doing my job. All I want to do it play football and getting out on loan enables you to do that.

“It is also different out on loan because in League Two the players are fighting for their livelihoods. If they go up they get more money and if they go down then they lose money and they have families to support.

“When you go out on loan at that level then you can’t have the mindset that it doesn’t matter as long as I play because I’m going back to Villa. I look at it that I need to help the club and the other players because if I was in that situation and faced the prospect of a pay cut and there was some young Villa player on loan and he didn’t care then I would be upset and angry about it because it is serious now. The Under-21s is serious for yourself but if you lost regularly then in the grand scheme of things it wouldn’t change a lot for Villa, whereas at Luton if you lose every week then it makes a massive difference to the club and the players.”

A defensive-minded full-back, Kinsella “loves a tackle” and believes he will cope with the physicality of League Two. He was speaking last week and his acknowledgement that he will have to improve fitness-wide was backed up on Friday when he was forced off with cramp in the 77th minute and then missed Monday’s fixture. Kinsella believes the Premier League’s Under-21 leagues do not provide young players with enough fixtures to be ready for full-time men’s football.

The defender was forced to miss a large chunk of this season after snapping an ankle ligament but his return to fitness could not have come at a better time.

Kinsella was included in Sherwood’s first training session following his arrival on February 14 and he trained with the first team until joining Luton six weeks later.

Speaking a month into his Villa reign, Sherwood said: “Lewis has done well. He is a player you recognise on the pitch. He leaves someone sprawling out on the floor every time he’s out there.

“For a young boy he’s not shy. I know his name. Sometimes you see kids and I’ve been at the club for a year and I still don’t know their name and they’ve trained with us 100 times. That isn’t what I’m looking for.”

The appreciation has been mutual. Kinsella said: “For me Tim Sherwood has been quality because he provided me with confidence, gave me the opportunity to train with the first team and to make an impression on him. He is at every reserve team game as well which is good. I like him.”

He continued: “I think it is good for players whenever a new manager comes in because it is a clean slate and it doesn’t matter how old you are. It is a new chance to impress.

“And Tim Sherwood did play a lot of young boys at Tottenham so it gives you even more of an incentive to do well because he believes in young players.”

Kinsella spoke to his dad in the summer and they both agreed that he needed to play regular football this season. He was on the verge of joining MK Dons on a temporary deal just before the loan window closed in November but the move fell through at the final moment, with the player already at the club’s training ground.

His ankle ligament injury ruled him out for a few months but despite Sherwood including him in the Villa squad for a trio of games, the manager and player agreed a loan move was the best thing for him.

Kinsella said: “The plan for this season for me and my family was for me to go out and play first-team football. I’m 21 in September and I needed to get out and start playing because there is only so much development football can do for you. I needed to push on my career and play first-team football.”

One of the perks of going out on loan was a return to his family home. Kinsella has lived ‘in digs’ since his switch to the Birmingham club at the age of 16 and although it has helped him stay fully focused on football and describes the people he lives with as “my second family”, he is enjoying life back in north Watford.

Watford Observer:

Kinsella opted to join Villa over a number of other clubs at the age of 16 after he was released by Arsenal, where he had been since he was an Under-8.

The defender was training with both the Gunners and Watford as a young child and joined Arsenal over his local club as they offered him two years in their academy rather than the Hornets’ one.

Chuba Akpom, who is on loan at Nottingham Forest, and Isaac Hayden, who made his Arsenal debut in September, are the only ones who played with Kinsella at Under-9s level that are still at Arsenal. Morgan Ferrier, who initially joined Watford after being released by Arsenal, is the only other player who was part of the Gunners’ scholarship programme that remains at a Premier League club, in Crystal Palace.

A few of his Villa teammates have made a good impression on loan at Football League clubs and his good friend Jack Grealish is now in the Villa first team.

When asked if not making the grade at Arsenal has worked in his favour due to the improved opportunities at Villa Park, Kinsella replied: “Yes 100 per cent. Everything happens for a reason. My dad was thinking about taking me out of Arsenal anyway at 16 even if I did get a contract because you do not get as many opportunities.

“When I went to Villa I was training with the first team once or twice a week at the age of 16 under Alex McLeish but Paul Lambert didn’t have so many young players up training with the first team. Now Tim Sherwood is there, there should be even more opportunities.”

Kinsella believes his upbringing in Watford contributed massively in shaping him as a player.

His football education included spells at Herons Youth, Everett Rovers and Evergreen – where a young Sean Murray played, although the Watford midfielder left at the same time Kinsella arrived.

Playing regular football with older family members and friends at Powerleague at Queens’ School and on the grounds of Parmiter’s School helped him adapt to the physicality of men’s football but it was outside his home on Churchfields Road where he learned most.

He said: “At the end of my road there were two bollards and a lamppost with a fence behind it and that was our goal. All of us from the street would be out there all day and all night and there was such a good atmosphere because all the parents would be sitting on the street while their kids played football.

“When I would get back from school I would get my Arsenal gear on and go to practice against the kerb and the fence for an hour until my dad came and he would pick me up to go to training.

“The next day I would do it again. We literally spent all our time playing football on the street and I think that is what made me the player I am.”

Former Shrewsbury Town striker Marvin Morgan, who is now at Hartlepool United, lived on the same road as Kinsella and he recalled fondly how the 31-year-old took him to one of his Aldershot Town games so he could experience professional football.

But seeing the next Lewis Kinsella and Marvin Morgan on the streets of Watford and other towns across the country is becoming increasingly rare.

Kinsella believes more should be done to provide the next generation of footballers in Watford with areas to play.

The Liverpool fan, whose dad supports QPR, said: “There are places in London were there are five-a-side courts built into housing estates and that would be perfect for round here.

“Where my mum lives for example is a new-build and there is space there for something like a caged-off football area and the kids round there would love it. The streets are where footballers are made.”