By Dan Harrison
Chris Herd has ended a fairytale week by signing a new contract to keep him at Villa until June 2014.
The week began on a high for the versatile Australian when he scored hat-trick for the reserves in Monday's 10-1 demolition of Arsenal.
It ended with a further boost as Herd inked a new deal, committing him to the club for the next three-and-a-half years.
The 21-year-old from Perth, Western Australia, joined Villa as a 15-year-old and made his Barclays Premier League debut this season when he came off the bench in the 2-2 draw against Manchester United.
He follows in the footsteps of fellow academy graduates Barry Bannan, Marc Albrighton, Jonathan Hogg, Ciaran Clark and Gary Gardner, who have all signed long-term deals over the past few months.
"I am really happy," Herd told AVTV. "I am just pleased to be here and pleased that I am going to be here for the next three-and-a-half years.
"When I got offered the contract it wasn't a difficult decision to make at all.
"A few of the other boys have done really well and have all signed contracts so it is nice to follow in their footsteps.
"All the boys stick together and are good mates on and off the pitch. We have all come through from the academy and it is nice when everyone is doing well together."
The utility man's first involvement with Villa's senior side came in December 2008 when he was named on the bench for a UEFA Cup tie against Hamburg.
He also featured strongly in the club's Peace Cup triumph in summer 2009, before joining team-mates Eric Lichaj and Nathan Baker for a loan spell at Lincoln City.
After signing his new deal, Herd paid tribute to the academy staff for their support and guidance since he arrived on English shores.
"It has been brilliant," he said. "I came over when I was 15-years-old.
"Since then they have been looking after me brilliantly, so I have got to say thanks for that as well.
"My game has come on loads since I first came over. I was 15 and I was still learning.
"Obviously Tony McAndrew and Kevin MacDonald have been a big help in my career. They have been great to me."
The next step for Herd is to become a regular fixture in the first team squad, having made four substitutes appearances this term.
"I am just going to try and get my head down and work hard in training and get into the team," he added.
"When you get that taste you want more - so hopefully I can get it. It just spurs you on."