Aston Villa U21s boss Gordon Cowans full of praise for Joe Cole's professionalism

The 33-year-old midfielder captained Cowans' side in Monday night's 0-0 draw against Stoke City after asking to be involved.

Aston Villa under-21s manager Gordon Cowans has hailed Joe Cole's professionalism after the veteran midfielder asked to play for his team in Monday night’s 0-0 draw against Stoke City at the Banks’s Stadium.

Speaking to AVTV after seeing Cole go the full 90 minutes in the side’s U21 Premier League Division Two opener, Cowans was full of praise for former England international and labelled him the perfect role model for his fledgling teammates.

“The good thing about Joe Cole is he actually asked to play, which is great,” said the Villa legend, who made 527 appearances for the club in three spells between 1976 and 1994. “That says everything.

“For these young lads to be playing and training with Joe, as he passes on his experience, is great for them.

“I thought he had a right go on the night and did himself proud out there.”

 2014-15 Premier League PositionTeamGoalsAssistsTotal Key PassesPassing AccuracyTotal Crosses MINSCrossing AccuracyTotal Dribbles MINSDribble AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Joe Cole MF Aston Villa 1 1 7 84% 17.44 25% 69.75 75% 12 279

Cole, 33, joined Villa on a free transfer last summer after his contract at West Ham United expired but later picked up a thigh strain at the start of pre-season which foreshadowed his fortunes for his first campaign in the Midlands.

The ex-Chelsea man ended up being limited to just five starts and 10 substitute appearances for a total of 441 minutes, while managing one goal and one assist, as recurring hamstring injuries prevented him from earning a regular run in the line-up.

With his career now winding down, the ageing No. 10 is expected to be just a bit-part contributor for Tim Sherwood’s side during the final 12 months of his contract, but the Villa boss has also stressed that he can still have an important role to fill off the pitch.

Speaking back in March, Sherwood highlighted the important of Cole’s experience both on the training ground and in the dressing room, telling the Birmingham Mail: “He’s good around the place. He’s been at every game, certainly the home games. He’s been in the dressing room before the game, talking to the players.

“We’ve got a relatively young squad so he’s valuable to me.”

At the same time, though, Cole has shown brief flashes of his former brilliance at Villa when fit, including during pre-season, and if he can keep off the treatment table then he could well force Sherwood to hand him a few more minutes than anticipated over the coming months.

The likes of Scott Sinclair, Jack Grealish and Carles Gil will still provide strong competition for places but, as long has he continues to show the same dedication that earned Cowans’ praise, then no one would begrudge him a successful 2015-16 season.

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