Stoke City: Westwood revels in Gresty Road development
FORMER Crewe star Ashley Westwood lines up against Stoke City tomorrow admitting he is eternally grateful for learning his trade at the Alex.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who joined Villa for £2m at the end of August on transfer deadline day, is set for his seventh Premier League start tomorrow amid glowing praise from boss Paul Lambert.
And Nantwich-born Westwood can trace his progress back to his very first memories in the garden alongside his dad and older brother Lee.
"It began with my dad throwing a ball at me when I was 18 months and I'd volley it back into his hands.
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"We'd got the Crewe academy on the doorstep, which for a young kid is one of the best academies around.
"My brother Lee, who is 30, was in Dean Ashton's year at Crewe, so it was a good crop of players he was with.
"But he had a stress fracture and it didn't work out for him. But my brother has been brilliant. A lot of brothers could be jealous, but he helps me in a lot of ways and he's really proud of me."
Westwood admits he might not take your breath away much in 90 minutes, but he will be a vital link in the possession game now being encouraged among Villa's youngsters.
Westwood, who played in a Villa team boasting the Premier League's lowest-ever average age last week (23 years and 324 days), says: "We've done it from kids at Crewe, the way we keep the ball.
"Barcelona's the perfect example. When they lose it, everyone is at it to get the ball back, and I think that's something we also need to do here.
"I get it off the back four, keep it simple, knock it out wide. I've got good long-range passing too, so hopefully I can bring that to the team.
"I don't like the game to pass me by. I'm not just a flash in the pan. I don't pull 'worldies' off for two minutes and then go missing for the rest of the game. I like to be constantly involved in the game.
"The tempo is a lot higher (in the Premier League) and the quality.
"It's one and two touch, but that is my game and so the quickness of my thinking is just going to come from playing with better players.
"That will bring me on and is something I'm looking forward to."