Paul Lambert reckons unsung hero Ciaran Clark has relished the extra responsibility placed on his shoulders this season.
Clark could be the man to lead Villa's back four again today with Ron Vlaar an injury doubt going into the clash against Stoke City.
The academy graduate has been tipped for a "massive future" at club and international level by Lambert.
This afternoon's game is set to pit Clark against the likes of Peter Crouch, Jonathan Walters and Michael Owen.
But Lambert is backing the 23-year-old to be a towering presence against the in-form Potters.
"I think Ciaran has done great," said the manager.
"He's another one that is maybe overlooked because he's been here a long time.
"But I think Ciaran at 23 has got a massive future.
"You're placing a lot of responsibility on him and he's thriving with it. Ciaran has been excellent for me.
"I hope he has got a big future because it will be great for Ciaran himself as an individual to make the grade as a footballer for club and country.
"The more caps you can accumulate then it will be great for him."
Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is expected to be at Villa Park to watch the claret and blues take on Stoke.
The Italian's presence will offer Clark another incentive to shine against Tony Pulis' team.
"It definitely give your confidence a boost play for your country because you go and play against the best in world match," added Lambert.
"If you can match that and compete with that then it gives your confidence a boost.
"Then you have got to try and stay in it - that's the big thing in international football because you know that other lads can come in."
Snap up your tickets and back the boys against Stoke.