Aston Villa youngster Jordan Lyden pushing for first Premier League start

The Australian midfielder made his top-flight debut for the club as a second-half substitute in last month's 6-0 home defeat to Liverpool.

After pushing his way into the first-team setup, Aston Villa midfielder Jordan Lyden has told AVTV that he hopes to make his first Premier League start for the club in the coming weeks.

Lyden, 20, was promoted to the senior squad in early December by manager Remi Garde after impressing for the Under-21s over the first half of the season and went on to make his professional debut the following month as a late substitute in the 1-1 FA Cup third-round draw at Wycombe Wanderers.

The Australian utility man subsequently made his first start for the club in the replay at Villa Park – putting in a strong shift at right-back to help Garde’s men beat the League Two side 2-0 – before earning his top-flight bow a few weeks later when he came off the bench for the final 24 minutes of the 6-0 home defeat to Liverpool.

He has since been an unused substitute for the past four matches and is eager to get a few more opportunities to impress during the run-in as the team make a last-ditch attempt to stave off relegation.

"I’ve been over the moon,” Lyden told AVTV on his recent first-team action. “To even be called up to the first team for training was just a massive achievement for me.

"I’ve kicked on and continued to work hard. Kevin [MacDonald] has constantly been on my back, which has been good, and now obviously I’m part of the first-team squad.

“To come on against Liverpool was just a dream come true. Obviously the result was very disappointing, but even just to step onto the Villa Park pitch for the first time in the Premier League – even for 30 minutes – I was over the moon with it.

“But I need to keep working and hopefully I can improve and get a start in the first-team in the weeks to come.”

Lyden, who was born in Australia to English parents, originally joined Villa from local club ECU Joondalup in 2012 after training with the claret and blues on an intermittent basis since the age of nine, before he signed a new deal until 2017 ahead of last season.

A serious hamstring injury subsequently forced the versatile youngster to miss the entire 2014-15 campaign, but he recovered in time to feature for the first-team in last summer's pre-season friendlies against Swindon Town and Walsall.

The former Australia Under-20 international has since captained Gordon Cowans’ Under-21 side throughout the season, netting three goals in 15 starts, and he credits the Villa legend and fellow development coach Kevin MacDonald for his recent progress.

“Kev’s constantly working us hard,” Lyden told AVTV. “He doesn’t give us a second to breath, which I feel is very good. He has very high standards and that’s what you need. He’s been there, done that and played professional football.

“Even the likes of Sid Cowans – he’s a Villa legend. I don’t need to say much about Sid. All you have to do is look at him and you see what he’s done for the club. He’s won the European Cup, a league title, cups, he’s played for his country – he’s an idol for everyone.

“Since Kev’s come back, though, I have felt there’s been more of a pathway into the first-team. Not only for myself, but you see the likes of Keinan Davies, Andre Green, Niall Mason and players like that coming through, and there are plenty more in the academy and Under-21s who are very capable of coming into the first-team.”

As well as Lyden, Villa fans have been crying out for Garde to give some of the club’s other youngsters a chance in the side as the more experienced members of his squad continue to disappoint, but whether the Frenchman is prepared to make such a bold move at this stage of the season remains to be seen.

That said, as the club currently sit nine points from safety at the foot of the table ahead of Sunday's visit of Tottenham Hotspur with just nine matches remaining, most would argue that he doesn't have much to lose.

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