Westwood Week: ARCHIVE - Ashley's first programme feature
His career has progressed in leaps and bounds these past few months but Ashley Westwood is a young man with his feet firmly on the ground.
Despite being catapulted from English football's fourth tier to the top-flight over the course of the summer, the 22-year-old midfielder retains the straightforward philosophy which has served him so well.
By his own admission, he likes to keep things simple on the pitch, and his short efficient passes have been an integral ingredient in Villa's midfield since his deadline day move from Crewe.
That's not to say though, that he isn't willing to be adventurous in the right circumstances.
He displayed as much with the magnificent through ball which enabled Charles N'Zogbia to set up Gabby Agbonlahor's second goal against West Bromwich Albion last week.
"I was known for my passing ability at Crewe," says the 22-year-old from Nantwich. "But if you try to force a pass in the Premier League and it gets cut out, nine times out of 10 the opposition will break and score.
"So I just keep it simple unless I'm 100 per cent sure a longer pass is going to work. Charles made that one at West Brom into a good pass!"
Westwood also believes that Villa should persevere with the attractive style of football which is easy on the eye as they strive to climb away from the Barclays Premier League danger zone.
"If we change our style of play now, we're not going to get anywhere," he insists. "The lads are all good footballers, even the ones at the back. They like to play it out rather just booting it up front and hoping for flick-ons.
"We need to stick to our guns, show a bit more commitment in tackles, get the fans on our side and pull through it."
Although he had to wait for his first team opportunity, Ashley has been involved in all four of Villa's league wins so far this season.
Having gone on as a substitute against Swansea, he made his first starting appearance at Sunderland and has since been in the line-up against both Reading and Liverpool.
"I don't know if that's just coincidence," he admits, "but it's a good feeling. Hopefully we can win as many games as possible between now and the end of the season. If I'm playing, that's great, but if I'm not too bothered if I'm on the bench as long as the team are winning."
Westwood, who learned his trade under the renowned and highly-principled Dario Gradi at Gresty Road, helped Crewe to promotion from League Two last season via a play-off victory over Cheltenham at Wembley.
He was handed the captaincy by Gradi's successor Steve Davis at the start of the current campaign but played only three League One games, plus a couple of Capital One Cup-ties, before his transfer deadline move to Villa Park.
"When Villa came in for me it was a dream come true. It was a big club, and not too far from where I live, so everything was perfect.
"I'd played in Crewe's first five games but all of a sudden I was thrown in at the deep end in the Premier League, so it was sink or swim. It was nice that Villa had faith in me.
"Crewe are a fantastic club for any young lad to be at because the policy there is to throw young players into the team, whether the team are fighting for their lives or going for promotion.
"They are known for bringing players through, and they have 30-odd scouts at every game. They play football the right way and that has stood me in good stead since I came here.
"But the tempo is higher in the Premier League and you really have to be at it in training every day or the gaffer will pull you to one side and let you know."
The fact that Ashley was cup-tied with Crewe meant he could only watch in frustration as Villa made their exit from the Capital One Cup in last week's semi-final against Bradford City.
Although he would also have had to settle for a watching brief in the final, he was as disappointed as anyone that his team-mates will miss out on the showpiece final.
"I played in the play-off final at Wembley last year and it's a special place," he says.
"Just to be there again and support the lads would have been good enough for me. Unfortunately that's not going to happen but we will pick ourselves up and go again."
He is particularly sympathetic that skipper Ron Vlaar has been denied the opportunity of leading the team out in the final, although he admits he would one day like the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the Dutch defender.
"It's going to take time for me to settle but to be captain of this club would be a real honour. I wouldn't turn that down!
"I wasn't really a vocal captain at Crewe. I just tried to show what I could do on the pitch by giving 100 per cent and never shirking anything. I'm a different type of leader to people like Ron and Stiliyan Petrov.
"Stan still comes in the dressing room from time to time and it's always great to hear his stories."
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