By Paul Brown
Ashley Westwood has hailed Barry Bannan's impact in central midfield, stressing the silky smooth star offers both craft and graft.
In-form Westwood is a big admirer of his mate's precision passes - but says there's much more to Bannan than outstanding vision.
Westwood insists that Bannan is like a terrier, nipping at the ankles of opposition midfielders in search of the ball.
He said: "Baz is a quality footballer. He's amazing in training. He's so sharp you just can't get near him. He's so quick, nimble and when you've got the ball he's always nipping around your ankles hunting for it back.
"A lot has been said about Baz's quality in possession and it's there for all to see but he works his socks off throughout the 90 minutes.
"He's chasing, he's blocking, he's harrying. He's a real team player.
"He's so good technically. I think the academies we've both been at have really helped us.
"I've been at Crewe since I was six and I imagine Baz has been with the Villa academy from a young nipper too.
"You get taught in the right way and you develop good habits which stand you in good stead as you develop and move up the age ladder. That stands you in good stead when you're older.
"Baz is fantastic. He has played in the Barclays Premier League for a number of years now and he's still only a young lad. I'm sure there are plenty of great years ahead of him.
"It's an absolute pleasure to play with him to be honest. He's a really good guy and an excellent footballer. He's so skilful on the ball but he works his socks off too.
"I think we work well as a pair in there and we help each other out on the pitch.
"Hopefully my partnership with Baz can develop and grow. I'm not naive though, it's up to the gaffer to pick the team each week.
"Myself and Baz will do our bit and try to stay in the side and keep performing for Aston Villa. Hopefully that's good enough.
"I think we're very similar players but I'm right-footed and he's left-footed. I think that helps on the pitch.
"There's a nice balance between us. We're the same sort of age but already we know each other's game inside-out.
"I have only been here a few weeks but the likes of Baz have really taken to me, which is really nice.
"We have to keep performing on the pitch as a pair. If you're not right at the top of your game, you've got the likes of Karim and Fabian who are on the bench waiting for their chances to stake a claim in the team.
"You have to be at it every second in training or you'll be out of the side.
"They're pushing for a place and that's healthy for the squad. You have to be at the very top of your game all the time."
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