Villa youngster will never forget Ashley’s advice

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Aston Villa starlet Barry Bannan aims to take advantage of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing's exit from the club this summer and secure a regular starting spot under Alex McLeish.

The Scottish international made a bright start to last season under Gerard Houllier, but fell out of favour with the former boss and was subsequently loaned out to Leeds United for the remainder of the campaign.

However, a summer of change has since followed at Villa Park, and Bannan has revealed that words of encouragement from Manchester United's summer acquisition have helped him focus on forcing his way back into the fold in the Midlands.

"When I was getting frustrated and not playing, Ashley (Young) sang my praises highly and just told me to keep going, because it happened to him when he was young at Watford. He got released and he had to go in and just train for nothing, and he was saying to me, 'I've been a lot lower than you, your time will come'," said Bannan.

"Ash had a knockback - and it was probably a bigger one than I had - and look where he is now.

"There were a couple of setbacks for me last season, but you'll get that in football and I'm just trying to look positively at this season. Hopefully I'll be a main fixture in the team.

"It had started off really well for me, I'd had 12 starts or something, so looking back it was a good season all in all, but I would have liked to have finished it stronger than I did because I had to go on loan. But it's a new season so all that is put to the back of my head now and I'm just looking forward and concentrating on trying to impress."

Bannan recognises it will be a tough task trying to replace the departed Young and Downing next season, but learning from the pair last term have helped the youngster develop his own game for the coming season.

"I played every day with those two last year and every day you're learning. Now it's a fresh start for everyone with the new gaffer. You've got chances to impress again and he's not holding any grudges," he concluded.

"I'm just looking forward to trying to work my way into the team - and every chance I get I'm going to take."

Premier League
Aston Villa
Barry Bannan
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