Joe Bennett might have been shipped out on a season-long loan to Brighton & Hove Albion last month, but the left-back still sees his long-term future at Aston Villa.
Signed from Middlesbrough in August 2012 for £2.75 million, Bennett was a regular starter during his first season at Villa Park, but made just six appearances during the 2013-14 campaign after being replaced by newcomer Antonio Luna and loanee Ryan Bertrand, respectively, in the lineup.
The 24-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements this summer following the arrivals of Aly Cissokho and Kieran Richardson but, despite the increased competition for places, still believes he can carve out a career for himself in the midlands.
‘I think my long-term future is definitely with Villa,’ he was quoted in the Birmingham Mail.
‘You never know what could happen. Brighton could get promoted and things could change.
‘I could have a good season, go back to Villa and then play next season.
‘At the moment I am just focusing on playing well and we’ll see what happens at the end.’
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Bennett admits that he perhaps tried to make the step up to the Premier League too soon in his career but, for now, is enjoying being back in the Championship, where manager Sami Hyypia has allowed him more freedom to get forward to join the attack.
‘I don’t think I’ve played my best football at Villa that’s for sure,’ he said.
‘I was young when I joined Villa and probably if I’m being honest I don’t think I was ready for the Premier League at that age.
‘Maybe a couple more years at Middlesbrough would have been better for me. I’m just buzzing to show people what I can do and hopefully I can do that this season.
‘The manager Sami Hyypia pulled me into his office just before my first game and said “I just want you to get forward really and show what you can do.”
‘That suits my game. I loved getting forward and I am really enjoying playing at the moment.
‘With Villa, especially in the Premier League, teams don’t really play like that. You get punished if there is a counter-attack and you are not back in your defensive role.’