By Paul Brown
Martin Laursen hopes Stephen Ireland can push on next season and become Villa's answer to Paul Scholes - scoring goals for fun for years to come.
Laursen is a big fan of the attacking midfielder and believes he can a real danger going forward for the claret and blue troops.
The former skipper would like him to have the same impact at Villa as goal ace Scholes has at Old Trafford.
He said: "I have watched a lot of Villa this past season and I have been impressed with Stephen.
"He has played some very good games. He has been outstanding in several.
"I said before the start of last season that Stephen can be Villa's Paul Scholes and I stand by that.
"He is very good at coming from deep to see the chances and put them away too.
"Strikers are always expected to score but they are often up against big, strong, tough defenders.
"It's always difficult for forwards to find space and get those important chances. That's why having Stephen is great - he's one of those midfielders who can burst into the box unannounced and cause mayhem.
"That's often a better weapon. Just look at Paul Scholes and how many he's contributed for Manchester United.
"Stephen loves to get forward. We have seen him work his socks off too but his main attribute is attacking from deep.
"But he needs the permission to go up. You need a style of play that gets the best out of Stephen.
"That is when he can come and make the runs into the penalty area and score goals.
"He can have the ball outside the area and try his luck from distance too. These are all attributes you associate with Paul Scholes.
"But Villa need to play a certain way to get the best out of him, an attacking style."
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