Steve Bruce praises 'terrific' Conor Hourihane after hat-trick performance
Steve Bruce gambled on his young Aston Villa players and was rewarded with an impressive 4-2 home win over Norwich in the Sky Bet Championship.
Keinan Davis, 19, ran Norwich ragged and it was Conor Hourihane who capitalised by scoring his first hat-trick for Villa.
The hosts led 2-0 at the break with goals from Hourihane and Andre Green, 19, but efforts from Josh Murphy and Nelson Oliveira ensured it was not entirely comfortable.
Explaining his team selection, Bruce said: "My hand was forced because Scott Hogan was not 100 per cent fit so I decided to play the two young boys, Keinan Davis and Andre Green.
"There were certainly glimpses against Norwich which shows they are good enough to play in the first team.
"Davis was playing against two big Germans and it was a fantastic debut from a young player who was playing non-league football a year ago."
Bruce was also full of praise for Hourihane, adding: "I'm delighted for Conor.
"He has only been here six months and he has found it difficult to deal with the expectations, and the same goes for Henri Lansbury.
"We know they are good players when we signed them from Barnsley and Nottingham Forest but we have to bring them out of their shell to perform on the big stage. That becomes difficult when it is expected.
"Conor will remember this Norwich game. It is not often a midfield player gets a hat-trick. He was terrific."
Norwich manager Daniel Farke said: "It was a disappointing result.
"We knew it would be a hard match as Villa would be motivated as it would be a do-or-die game for them.
"It was our third game in six days and it was a hard struggle. We had a bad first half and Villa deserved to lead 2-0 at the interval.
"There were a couple of unlucky situations including a doubtful free-kick which resulted in them scoring with a deflection.
"I am happy and content with the reaction of my guys in the second half and their attitude. The reason we lost was our poor first half when we made some silly mistakes.
"There was a lot of pressure on us because of the stadium and Villa's aggressive attitude to win.
"It was difficult and the first half was perhaps the worst we have played since I became manager.
"The Villa result is a setback and we have to work on our defensive mistakes."