Paul Lambert has praised the level-headed approach of skipper Ron Vlaar as Villa head into the business end of the campaign.
Despite picking up several niggling injuries this term, Vlaar has been present for all seven of the claret and blues' clean sheets.
Lambert admits the Dutch centre-back has come on leaps and bounds this season after taking time to adapt to the frenetic nature of the Barclays Premier League.
And the Villa boss knows Vlaar's presence will be key as his team look to stay clear of the top flight's bottom clubs.
"Ron has been around the block before he has played at a really high level," said Lambert.
"Feyenoord are a big club so he's used to big crowds. He also plays with his national team and all the great players they've got. He's been there, seen it and done it.
"He has just adjusted to the pace of the league this season.
"That's been the big thing. Some lads when you bring them over take a little bit of time to adapt and it took Ron the best part of a season to adapt.
"This year he's got used to the speed of it and the players he's playing against."
Lambert has enjoyed a close working relationship with Vlaar since bringing him to Villa and handing him the captain's armband.
The manager has been impressed by the 29-year-old's calm approach to leadership.
"I know him well and he'll come to me and talk to me on behalf of the lads," said Lambert.
"He's not a shouter as such. You get all different types.
"He's one of the more quiet ones. But I've never had a problem communicating with him.
"Everyone is different. There are different ways to lead by example."
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