Aston Villa's Joe Cole reveals why he doesn't mind bench role

The fit-again midfielder has been so pleased with the team's recent upturn in form that he's content with a bit-part role for now.

Aston Villa midfielder Joe Cole has told AVTV that he doesn’t mind settling for a bench role while the team are performing as well as recent games.

Cole, 33, has seen injuries limit him to just five starts and 10 substitute appearances since arriving in June on a free transfer, with a nagging hamstring problem forcing him to wait five weeks before getting his first run-out under the incoming Tim Sherwood.

However, the former England international has managed to carve out a small role for himself in the new manager's side since returning to action last month, making five cameos in the past six games for a total of 60 minutes.

In previous circumstances, the ex-Chelsea star admits that he would be getting frustrated about his lack of starts but, with the team getting results while the likes of Fabian Delph, Tom Cleverley, Charles N’Zogbia and teenager Jack Grealish all impress, he openly concedes that there is no place for him in the line-up at present.

For now, Cole is just focused on keeping fit during the run-in and, with his contract lasting until 2016, hopes to be able to become a more important contributor next term.

“Usually I’d be getting impatient about not starting but the boys have been terrific and I just need to keep fit really,” he said. “The manager’s been great with me in that sense, telling me to listen to my body, but I’m getting stronger week by week.

“There’s a short break in the summer, which will suit me down to the ground, so I’ll keep ticking over and come back stronger.”

Cole has also been more than impressed with the impact Sherwood has made since arriving at Villa, with six wins from his 12 games in charge putting them on course for Premier League survival and setting up an FA Cup final encounter with Arsenal.

The change in atmosphere around the club from Paul Lambert’s reign has been staggering and the veteran midfielder believes it’s the mark of a top manager that he has been able to get the squad to make such strides forward without changing the personnel.

“He’s come in and been a breath of fresh air,” added Cole. “Every player has gone on another 10 or 20 per cent and, for me, that’s the staple of a top manager.

“The mood’s great, the form’s good and we’re on the up. We’ve got the cup final to look forward to so now it’s the best atmosphere since I’ve been here.”

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