Paul Lambert has backed Matt Lowton to recapture the form he displayed last season - after challenging the full-back to win back his starting spot.
Lowton missed out on Villa's last two Barclays Premier League games with Lambert opting to use summer signing Leandro Bacuna at right-back.
The 24-year-old was a defensive stalwart last term following his arrival from Sheffield United.
He featured in all but one of Villa's top-flight fixtures, as well as six cup ties.
Now Lowton finds himself in competition with Bacuna for a place in Lambert's back line.
The Villa boss says Lowton has responded well in training since losing his place for the game against Norwich on September 21.
"The challenge is there to him," said Lambert.
"It has been thrown at him and you have to step up to the challenge, which I know he will. He'll come back.
"He played 38 games for us at a really, really high level - consistent as the day is long.
"Then all of a sudden you find 'I'm not playing, I'm not starting'.
"But it makes you determined to get back in and he has trained really well, Matty.
"The challenge is there to get back in because Bacuna is playing really well.
"I've spoken to him and he knows himself the standard he has set has been really high.
"It's not a criticism of him - it's just football. He'll get this until the day he stops playing.
"You have to fight to stay in the side regardless of where you are or who you area."
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