Delph enjoying role alongside Petrov
Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph is thrilled to have been given the chance to learn his trade alongside Bulgaria star Stiliyan Petrov.
The 21-year-old midfielder won rave reviews for his performance alongside Petrov in Saturday's 3-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Blackburn, and will head into tomorrow night's Carling Cup second round clash with Hereford more than happy with his lot.
Former Leeds player Delph has had to contend with his fair share of injury misery since arriving at Villa Park in August 2009, but a run of good health and the influence of his illustrious team-mate have seen him make a fine start to the new campaign.
He told AVTV: "Stiliyan is tremendous. I have learned so much from him.
"He is a great captain. He is brilliant. He is the skipper and he does the job better than anyone.
"He's played hundreds and hundreds of games at the highest level. He's so experienced and I'm learning loads from him.
"I'm speaking to him. He's speaking to me. There's a good understanding developing there and long may that continue."
The two men provided the midfield solidity which allowed Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey and Darren Bent to find the back of the net at the weekend and send Villa into tomorrow night's cup tie in excellent spirits.
Agbonlahor was another to catch the eye as Blackburn wilted, and manager Alex McLeish has high hopes for the 24-year-old after asking him to change his game as he attempted to accommodate all the attacking talent at his disposal.
McLeish said: "When I first came to the club, I wondered what had happened to him last season, and how I could get guys like him and Bent in the same team.
"The answer is for Gabby to learn new tricks and he's had to adapt to a different position, and he's been fantastic for the team over the last couple of games.
"But you have got to want to do that. It's about attitude and every player has showed tremendous commitment into working for the team, and Gabby capped it off with a stunning goal.
"He has taken up the challenge. He played a few times in wide areas last season and it wasn't quite the Agbonlahor we were used to seeing.
"But I remember him playing there when I was at Birmingham and supporting John Carew from the wide areas, and I always thought he was very dangerous. I felt he had it in his locker.
"But it's only two games. We have a squad of players, some young players, bursting to get into the team, and Gabby knows people are breathing down his neck, the same as everybody else."
Agbonlahor is a doubt for the Hereford game after limping off at half-time on Saturday with a hamstring problem, and McLeish also has concerns over goalkeeper Shay Given, defender Luke Young and Heskey.
Provisional squad: Given, Guzan, Young, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Petrov, Delph, N'Zogbia, Albrighton, Bent, Agbonlahor, Heskey, Beye, Makoun, Ireland, Bannan, Beye, Clark.
Latest in Sport
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'