Martin O’Neill believes striker John Carew can enjoy the peak years of his career during his spell with Aston Villa.
And O’Neill will be more than satisfied if Carew "does half as well" as former Villa hero Peter Withe - whose goal won the club the European Cup nearly 25 years ago.
Withe was a cult figure with the Villa fans, who have taken to Carew in the same way during his three games to date againgst Newcastle, West Ham and Reading.
O’Neill explained: "Carew is better than a decent player. If he can stay fit, he will be a decent acquisition to us and I have been very encouraged in the three games so far.
"It is very early but the crowd have taken to him. He is 27 and I don’t see why he should not be reaching his peak at Aston Villa.
"Villa have had some fabulous centre forwards over the years without a doubt. I think back to my friend Peter Withe, whom I played with at Nottingham Forest, and he was one of them.
"If John does half as well as Peter Withe, I’ll be happy. He proved himself in Spanish football (with Valencia) but he wanted to compete in the Premiership.
"I think he can adjust to the Premiership and it has been a positive start. He suffered from a touch of cramp in his first two games after not playing for some time but got in 90 minutes at Reading which will be good for him.
"The good thing is that during the last three games, we have looked capable of scoring."
Carew came to Villa from Lyon via the swap deal which saw Milan Baros heading in the opposite direction. But O’Neill insisted: "I would have wanted to do the deal for John even if we could not have swopped Milan for him.
"But when the swop was suggested everybody thought it was good for both clubs, both managers and both players.
"If John stays clear of serious injury, he will be a real player for us."