Having revived his Aston Villa career in remarkable fashion over recent months, Alan Hutton has put his new three-year deal at the club down purely to hard work.
Signed from Tottenham Hotspur in 2011 under former manager Alex McLeish, the right-back failed to make a single appearance with the club over the last two seasons following Paul Lambert’s arrival, while being sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest, Real Mallorca and Bolton Wanderers in an attempt to soften the blow of his £30,000-per-week wages.
Part of the infamous “bomb squad”, few expected him to remain with the club past this summer but, after being given a surprise second chance in pre-season, the once-jettisoned veteran has gone on to establish himself as one of the side’s most impressive performers over the start of the season.
‘I kept my head down worked hard came in every day and it has paid off,’ he told the club’s official website.
‘Like everybody else here, I've always trained hard so I've been able to come back strong this season and the benefits of that have been excellent for me.
‘I kept my head down, worked hard, came in every day and it's paid off. Now I just want to go on and take this opportunity given me by the manager.’
Lambert had stated last season that he didn’t expect Hutton to ever feature in a claret and blue shirt again, but the Scot had nothing but praise for how the ex-Rangers man has applied himself since coming back into the first-team fold.
‘You know exactly what you will get from Alan, he's an excellent professional and he's made an excellent start to the season for us, helping to drive the defence and adding his experience to the mix,’ he said.
‘The way he's played, he's made a big contribution to the great start we've made, as have all of the players, because it's very much a squad game and you need that level of focus and commitment from everyone in the group.’
With Villa taking 10 points from their opening four Premier League games, Hutton has been a crucial part of the back-line which has conceded just one goal so far, and the Scottish international will hope to continue his rich vein of form when the club host Arsenal on the weekend.