Aston Villa Club Focus – Midfield competition healthy for the progression of the Villa squad

The fight for places in the Aston Villa midfield has well and truly started. Current central midfield duo Chris Herd and Stiliyan Petrov performed well in the 2-2 draw with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last weekend, but face a battle to retain their places. On-loan Jermaine Jenas has returned from his injury, Stephen Ireland is eager to stake his claim and young Fabian Delph is snapping at the ankles of the seniors.

Petrov, the Villa skipper, should feel inclined to be starting every week due to his established position within the squad. The Bulgarian, however, is not taking his place for granted and is glad that the Villa midfield is packed with quality, relishing the challenge of maintaining his position. “Jermaine has been unlucky with injuries so far, but we know how important he can be for this team. He has shown over the years what a good player he is.

We already have competition for places between me, Stephen Ireland and Fabian Delph, and Jermaine will add to that. Every day in training, we try to push each other and improve each other. It’s great to have Jermaine back,” Petrov said.

Villa’s captain has also praised Delph and has stated that the 21-year-old has the desire to succeed in his future career. Delph has also made his return from injury like Jenas and commented in the match day programme about his determination to make drastic improvements with his game. Villa boss Alex McLeish was delighted with the comments of the former Leeds United midfielder and claimed that it was music to the ears of McLeish.

There’s good competition in the middle. Don’t count Fabian out. He played in those eight games for us. He’s come through a lot. I do admire him and he has to be patient as well. He has to keep trying to improve his game,” said McLeish.

”He’s a honest guy and he spoke in the programme and that piece was telling me that Fabian thinks he can be much, much better in a Villa jersey,” the Villa boss added.

McLeish’s side host Norwich City this weekend and Scottish midfielder Barry Bannan could be back in the squad after his suspension. The 21-year old-returned to training following an alleged drink-driving incident and coincided with a speech by former Wolves midfielder Alex Rae over the perils of drinking. Rae lost his driving licence whilst Bannan’s age at Millwall and urged the talented midfielder to learn from his mistakes.

Villa currently reside in ninth place in the league table, just one spot behind the Canaries, and they are looking to get back to winning ways after three games without victory. Paul Lambert’s side will not give Villa an easy run and McLeish will be hoping that the talent he holds in the middle of the park can overpower the Canaries and get all three points.

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