Rookie Aston Villa defender Enda Stevens was today hopeful that he has done enough to keep his place against Manchester City this weekend.
The Ireland Under-21 left-back made a credible full Premier League debut in Villa’s 3-2 home defeat to Manchester United where he shackled the creative talents of Antonio Valencia.
Manager Paul Lambert will welcome back Eric Lichaj from suspension while first-choice left-back Joe Bennett continues to make progress with a knee injury which could see Stevens dropped to the bench.
“Obviously, I’m hoping to keep my place, I’ve got confidence. I’ll go into training and train well and hopefully I’ll stay in the team for Manchester City,” said Stevens.
“I’ve trained with the first team every day since I’ve been here. My debut has been a long time coming, but when you get your chance you’ve got to take it.
“If we play like we did against Manchester United there’s no reason why we can’t get a result against Manchester City. It’s a great experience; it brings out the best in you. You know where you stand when you play against the best.”
Stevens continued: “The highlight for me was just playing, being on the pitch for Aston Villa against Manchester United in front of a 40,000 crowd. Everything about it.
“But to play at this level you’ve got to be focused for 90 minutes and I switched off, so I’m gutted at the fact that I conceded a goal.
“It was my fault for the third goal because I didn’t quite track his run and he got their ahead of me. It’s not taken the gloss of making my debut, but I’m still devastated that we lost the game.
“You’ve got to maintain focus all the way through against top, top opposition. It’s a massive experience, but I’m just looking to kick on.”
Stevens revealed that while competition for places on the pitch is fierce between himself, Lichaj and Bennett away from football they are good pals.
“We’re all the best of friends, me and Eric are really close, I have a lot of time for Eric, he helped me out massively when I first came over here,” added Stevens.
“Joe’s come in and we’ve bonded a bit, he’s a bit of a quiet lad. We all go out and play golf together.
“That’s what the gaffer wants, he wants competition because that brings the best out in players.”