By Dan Harrison
Kyle Walker has hailed Stewart Downing as Villa's standout performer this term, insisting: "He sets the bar for everyone."
Downing is one of the leading contenders to walk away with the club's player of the season award and Walker has endorsed the former Middlesbrough man's claim further by citing him as a major role model in the dressing room.
The duo have combined to great effect this term, with Downing often switching flanks to link up with the on-loan Spurs full-back.
And Walker says the England winger sets high standards which the rest of the team look to emulate.
"Since I came here I've seen a massive difference with Stewart Downing," he said.
"It's great for me with him being on my side of the pitch and sometimes I can just give him the ball and I don't even have to think.
"I just pass him the ball and you know he's going to carry it. Not many players can take it off him.
"He sets the bar for everyone. In the first 10 minutes if he's having a good game people want to rise to that challenge and have a good game as well with him."
Walker says his team-mate sets an example to the rest of the squad with his tremendous work ethic on the training pitch.
"He does work on everything," he added. "He works on his crossing and his shooting.
"For me he's someone to look up to even though he's not much older than me - he's still a good role model."
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