Petrov: Clark has a bright future
Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov believes rookie defender Ciaran Clark has a massive part to play in the club's future, despite the signings of James Collins and Richard Dunne. The 19-year-old made an impressive debut alongside Carlos Cuellar in Sunday's 2-0 home win over Fulham, after Curtis Davies was ruled out with a recurrence of his shoulder problem.
Clark may now have to take a back seat following the arrivals of Collins and Dunne from West Ham United and Manchester City respectively. But Petrov believes the Academy product has already shown enough potential to be earmarked as a player who can make his mark at Villa.
The Bulgarian international told Press Association Sport: "Ciaran Clark has got a big part to play. He was very impressive during pre-season. He played well in the Peace Cup over in Spain and against Fulham he acted like he has already got 100 games behind him.
"It is great to see young boys with such confidence and ability, especially from the youth team, and you want to see players like that break into the first team. He was excellent. Gabby (Agbonlahor) was the man of the match for us - but Ciaran was not far behind him. I really mean that."
Villa have lifted the early season gloom via back-to-back wins over Liverpool at Anfield and the Cottagers. But Petrov is aware they need to sustain their form throughout the entire campaign after a late fade last season cost them the chance of competing in the UEFA Champions League.
"If we want to get back into Europe again, we need to play well and do very well all the time," he said. "We need more consistency throughout the season."
Dunne and Collins are expected to make their Villa debuts in the derby with Birmingham City on 13 September.