Aston Villa star says £4.7m World Cup buy kept him on his toes

Colombia Lineup

Signed to compete for a first-team place with Ashley Westwood, the 24-year-old has admitted that Carlos Sanchez has forced him to “up” his game.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert may have pulled off something of a masterstroke in bringing highly-rated Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez to the Midlands club – but not necessarily in the way he would have originally intended.

Recruited from La Liga side Elche over the summer for a bargain £4.7 million, having impressed for Los Cafeteros at the World Cup in Brazil, Sanchez was seen as the man to add some extra bite to the Villa midfield.

More specifically still, many pundits and fans saw the arrival of the 28-year-old as bad news for midfielder Ashley Westwood, who was expected to make way for the South American in the Villa line-up.

But, as the 24-year-old explained in an interview with the Birmingham Mail this week, Sanchez’s arrival has instead motivated Westwood to fight hard for his starting place, with Villa reaping the benefits.

"Carlos came in on the back of a great World Cup and it was up to me to up my game and show the gaffer I should be playing," the ex-Crewe star explained.

"I’ve just done my best each game and that’s what I will continue to do. If Carlos gets in ahead of me, I will still be rooting for him in the side."

Signed from the Alex for a fee of around £2 million, the Nantwich-born midfielder has already featured four times for Villa in the league this term and is keen to show his worth to Lambert.

And after a disappointing campaign last season, Westwood’s reaction is exactly what the Scot would have been looking for and has suddenly given the manager the right kind of selection headache ahead of a trip to Everton in the Premier League.

The Toffees are in poor form and will be without defender John Stones, after the youngster was ruled out of action until the turn of the year.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch