Aston Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood eager to follow in Ray Wilkins' footsteps

The 25-year-old's no-nonsense playing style has been likened to that of Villa's new assistant manager.

Aston Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood believes that Ray Wilkins' arrival at the club will prove invaluable for him as he looks to take the next step forward in his career.

Westwood, 25, was speaking to AVTV after the club opened their pre-season in Portugal with a 3-1 defeat to Fulham, with Wilkins watching on from the dugout for the first time since being appointed as Tim Sherwood’s new assistant manager last month.

The former England international brings a wealth of footballing experience with him to the Midlands and, having been an undersized but no-nonsense central midfielder, Villa’s deep-lying playmaker believes that their similar playing styles make him the ideal mentor.

“With Ray coming in, it’s good for me to learn from these former top players,” said Westwood. “I want to get better and, with the likes of Ray and gaffer being involved, I should be getting better.

“He was a great player – obviously a bit before my time – but I’ve heard lots about him and he was similar in style to me. Hopefully he can bring the best out of me now.”

 Premier League SeasonGoalsAssistsTotal Key PassesTotal Passes GAMEPassing AccuracyTotal Tackles GAMEInterceptions GAMETouches GAMEAppearancesMins Played
Ashley Westwood 2014-2015 0 1 35 49.07 84% 1.22 1.48 61.78 27 2,152
Ashley Westwood 2013-2014 3 2 65 46.51 83% 1.6 1.37 58.91 35 3,081
Ashley Westwood 2012-2013 0 6 33 44.53 85% 1.73 2.37 56.2 30 2,462

Westwood joined Villa from childhood club Crewe Alexandra in August 2012 for around £2 million and has since made 102 total appearances for the club, while recording three goals and 10 assists.

While he has received few headlines during his time at Villa Park, his consistent performances prompted ex-manager Paul Lambert to tip him for an England call-up last season, while current Sherwood has also compared his understated approach to that of Manchester United’s Michael Carrick.

Nevertheless, the former Crewe captain has not quite reached the heights at this point that some expected him to upon his arrival and, with fellow midfielders Fabian Delph, Carlos Sanchez, Gary Gardner and new signing Idrissa Gueye all providing strong competition for places, a starting spot is no guarantee heading into this season.

However, if he can take inspiration from Wilkins, whose illustrious career included stops at Chelsea, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, then England honours might not be far off.

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