Ciaran Clark says the return of Chris Herd has added an even greater "competitive edge" to Villa's rearguard.
Utility ace Herd made his first appearance for more than 11 months in Sunday's defeat at Fulham.
The Australian was a surprise stand-in for skipper Ron Vlaar who missed out with a calf problem.
Clark was impressed with the battling qualities of his fellow academy graduate.
And he believes the re-emergence of Herd has added further to the healthy competition in the club's defensive ranks.
"He had an injury and has done really well in training," said the Republic of Ireland centre-back.
"He did very well on Sunday and no-one could have asked any more of him.
"We've got a big enough and a good enough squad where if there are injuries people can come in and fill in and do a good job.
"There's competition all over the squad but with the training everyone is looking to make a mark and get themselves on the teamsheet.
"It's a competitive edge we have in the week so when it comes to the games we're very much together and want each other to do well. It's very positive to us."
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