Aston Villa let young left-back Enda Stevens go but he is making up for lost time at Premier League rivals Sheffield United.

For a brief spell in 2011, Jermaine Jenas and Enda Stevens crossed paths at Aston Villa.

At the time, the former England international midfielder was seeing his once promising career wind down prematurely after a series of injury problems.

Stevens, meanwhile, was right at the other end of the spectrum; a budding young left-back desperate to make his name on English shores.

In the end the Irishman was released by the Midland giants after making just seven first-team appearances in Villa colours. And it is fair to say that, five years on, they would turn back the clock if they had the chance.

While Dean Smith’s side are stuck in the relegation mire, Stevens is flying high in the Premier League with Sheffield United, establishing himself in double-quick time as one of the best left-backs in English football.

It would certainly be interesting to discover whether Jenas spotted this untapped potential during that short period, nine years ago, when Stevens was a team-mate at Aston Villa.

“I’ve watched Stevens ten times this season. Sorry Blades fans, but he’ll be gone!” Jenas tells the Mirror (24 March, page 48), tipping the 29-year-old for a big move away from Bramall Lane.

“He has a wand of a left foot and has energy.

“He has the freedom to go forward in United’s system. He might not get the assists of others because the goals don’t flow there, but is one of the most creative and best in the league.”

Jenas has a point. There are few better sights in the Premier League these days than when Stevens wraps his foot around a perfectly-weighted Ollie Norwood pass and drives an inch-perfect delivery into, as Mark Lawrenson would put it, the ‘corridor of uncertainty’.

The list of youngsters who have gone from strength to strength since leaving Aston Villa is certainly an exhaustive one. And letting Stevens go may be the biggest mistake of the lot.

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