Versatility might be Eric Lichaj’s middle name but the American conceded he will have to continue to add further strings to his bow.
Lichaj was handed a chance to impress against Tranmere in the League Cup at the end of last month and promptly kept his place in the starting line-up for Villa’s next two Premier League matches.
However, Villa boss Paul Lambert appears to advocate a system which does away with traditional wingers and instead the width in the team is provided by attacking full-backs.
As a more conventional defender Lichaj does not immediately come across as a player who ideally fits that profile, and with the arrival Matthew Lowton and Joe Bennett his long-term future in the side will inevitably come into question.
But the versatile 22-year-old, who is currently keeping Bennett out of the team at left-back, is determined to improve every dimension of his game to stay in the side as long as possible.
“I’m classed as a defender, so the first thing I’m going to do is defend, but I do like to attack as well and it is something I know I have to keep working on,” said Lichaj.
“There are different things I can improve on, like having a better touch with my left foot so I can put myself in situations to either pass the ball or keep dribbling with it. Basically I need to get more confident on my left-foot and I think I’ve started to do that.
“When I was younger I wasn’t playing full-back, I was playing striker and I could score with both feet. I worked on everything.
“The thing that stopped me was when I broke both my feet before I came over here, and that’s where my left-foot deteriorated a bit.
“I didn’t break them at the same time, but they are fine now. You can always improve, whatever age you are.”
Lichaj is predominantly right-footed but has not looked out of place on the left and admitted that the defensive side of his game is not particularly hampered being on his ‘wrong’ foot.
“For me it’s a little bit different going forward because I’m maybe not as confident going on my left foot as I am on my right side. But defending wise I seem to find it a little bit easier just because of little things that I can’t really explain,” added Lichaj.
“I played there a lot when I went on loan at Leeds, in fact most of the time I was there. It’s about getting used to it and my left foot has been getting better over time.
“I’m getting more confident with it. I’m fine playing in both positions, wherever left-back or right back. No matter what, I’ll give it my all.”
Villa travel to Southampton tomorrow and even though the Saints have lost all four of their Premier League games this season Lichaj won’t be taking them lightly.
“We’re not really concerned about what the stats say, I’m just worried about getting a win. Hopefully the team can do that. No one player can do that, it has to be a team effort,” explained Lichaj.
“They’ll be looking for a win, especially at their stadium, so it’s not going to be easy at all. I know they’ve had a tough run of games, but they’ll have a tough game with us as well.
“It will be harder because they’ll be looking for a reaction from their last match, but they’ll be in for a shock if they think we are going to be an easier opponent than the teams they have played.
“It doesn’t matter when you play the newly promoted teams, as long as you bring your best game as a player and as a team. If you do that then I’m pretty sure you’ll get the result.”
* Eric Lichaj was speaking at an event to promote Villa’s ‘Tickets for Schools’ scheme which is open to all primary schools in the West Midlands.
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