Gary McAllister has hailed Barry Bannan for his recent performances in claret and blue.

The 20-year-old, who made his Scotland debut against the Faroe Islands on Tuesday, has impressed for Aston Villa since he was drafted in by boss Gerard Houllier.

A crippling injury crisis at Villa Park saw the youngster start against Manchester United last Saturday and he put in an assured display in the middle of the park.

Assistant boss McAllister has been full of praise for his fellow countryman and hopes he can continue to develop into an even better player.

“He’s a young player with loads of potential,” he said.

“His passing ability and his ability to make a goal or score a goal gives him the chance to go far in the game.

“He’s a Lanarkshire boy, and I’m from Motherwell, so he’s from just up the road to me.

“He’s got loads in common in relation to being from the same part of the world.

“We’re both midfield players, and this is basically what my job is, to pass on my experiences to everybody and help them develop.

“I played the same position as Barry, and it’s an area of the park that I’m very familiar with.

“I want to give him as many little options as I can.

“He’s naturally gifted though so he doesn’t need to be told a lot.”

When McAllister was breaking through as a young footballer size was equally as important as ability.

Fortunately it was never an issue for him when he signed for Motherwell in 1981 but other footballers missed out on signing for professional clubs because they were too small.

The former Scotland captain feels times have now changed and Bannan is reaping the rewards.

He puts that down to the success of teams like Barcelona and Spain who have proved that size doesn’t matter.

The likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, David Silva and Andreas Iniesta are all small players but their ability has carried them through.

“I think the big thing for players like Barry Bannan is that teams like Spain and Barcelona have been so successful,” he added. “What they’ve brought to football in the last three or four years is that size doesn’t really matter. If you’ve got ability, there is a place for you.’’

Meanwhile, former Arsenal favourite Robert Pires was expecting to complete his move to Villa by the end of the week and put himself in contention for a debut at Blackburn Rovers on Sunday.