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Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard urges Emi Buendia not to get carried away

Villa boss Steven Gerrard has urged Emi Buendia to play the game and not the occasion on his return to Norwich tonight.

Aston Villa's Emiliano Buendia (left) with manager Steven Gerrard
Aston Villa's Emiliano Buendia (left) with manager Steven Gerrard

The 24-year-old playmaker’s first match back at Carrow Road since his club record £38million move to the West Midlands is one of two key storylines in the build-up to a match which also pits Gerrard against his predecessor in the Villa dugout, Dean Smith.

Buendia enjoyed three excellent years at Norwich after joining in a £1.4m deal from Getafe, scoring 15 goals last season to help them win promotion from the Championship.

Though his career at Villa has so far been something of a slow-burn, featuring just one goal and two assists, recent weeks have seen a definite upturn in form and Gerrard acknowledges he will head to Norfolk eager to prove a point.

“I am sure it is a game he is really looking forward to, he was fantastic for Norwich and I am sure he will be appreciated when he goes back,” said Gerrard. “Emi just has to focus on the job we want him to do and play the game, not the occasion.

“I am sure there will be emotions he will need to control from a personal point of view. We have every trust and belief he will go and perform as well as he can.”

Buendia was left out of the starting XI for Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Liverpool but enjoyed a busy cameo off the bench Gerrard revealed the Argentine’s game-time had been deliberately managed due to a minor knock.

He continued: “He is obviously a big talent and the club invested highly in his services.

“The idea is to build a really exciting team around the likes of Emi who is really suited to this style and the way we play.

“We are excited at the prospect of working closely together to try and develop and improve and continue that process, to try and build on the good work that has gone on before. Right now he is in a good place.”

Gerrard paid tribute to the work done by Smith, whom he replaced last month, during his three years at the helm.

But while he admitting the identity of the Norwich boss might add a little more interest for neutral observers, his own focus is purely on getting a positive result as Villa look to push back toward the top half of the Premier League.

After defending for long periods at Anfield, Gerrard promised his team would be ‘bold and ambitious’ at Carrow Road.

He said: “The idea for me coming in was to try and build on that work and the foundations that were put in place.

“I can echo what Dean said in terms of leaving the club in a better place than when he took the job. I think that is clear for everyone to see.

“For me coming in here it was to try and identify areas or put my own stamp on things to try and move the club forward. That is what I will try and do.

“We will continue to work as hard as we can on a daily basis to improve and grow.”

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