Ireland keen to be good role model to emerging Villa stars
Stephen Ireland has welcomed Villa's "young and hungry" policy - and has vowed to pass on his experience to the club's emerging stars.
The average age of Paul Lambert's starting XI in Saturday's 3-2 defeat to Manchester United was under 24, but the boys in claret and blue looked far from overawed against the Red Devils.
Former Manchester City midfielder Ireland now finds himself as one of the senior members of the squad and he is keen to play an influential role in helping the young guns.
He said: "The players here aren't half getting younger!
"I had this at Manchester City. Kevin Keegan left, Stuart Pearce took over and all of a sudden, me Micah Richards, Joe Hart were given a chance.
"Now I find myself one of the experienced ones at Villa, which is a change.
"I've never been in that position before. I wouldn't look at them as competition.
"I like it when homegrown lads come through, especially if they deserve it and work hard to be where they are. That's a real good story.
"I want to give them advice and help them with their decision making.
"That step up from youth to reserve to first team is massive. When I was trying to get into the first team at City.
"I'd been in the reserves since I was 16 or 17, playing with Richard Dunne, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman. They were really experienced.
"I picked up from them. So with the young lads coming in and training with us, I hope to help them like I was helped."
Despite some mixed results, Ireland believes the style of football under Lambert has been a big hit with the Villa fans this term.
He reckons the claret and blue faithful can that progress is being made.
"We're being encouraged to play football, we're winning or losing in style," he added.
"It's probably not good to lose, of course, but at least we're having a go.
"We're only a few minor details away from being a good side.
"I think the fans are happier this year for obvious reasons.
"They're behind us. I feel they're appreciating the way we're going about things.
"We have some good young players here and good experienced players.
"I think we should be up in the top half. We just need a few things to go our way."
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