Defender Curtis Davies officially became Aston Villa’s first signing of the summer when he put pen to paper today on a four-year deal which sees his season-long loan from West Bromwich Albion made permanent.
The 23-year-old centre-half joined Martin O’Neill’s Villa Park revolution last August as a loan player from The Hawthorns and made 12 league appearances in a season blighted by injury.
The former England Under-21 International initially lost his place to Zat Knight after his so called "pub player" performance in Villa’s early exit from the Carling Cup at the hands of Leicester City and then tore his achilles at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium back in March.
But prior to that he had a major impression on the side after recovering his place from Knight with performances which earned him a call-up to new England coach Fabio Capello’s inaugural national squad.
Davies said he was delighted his move which he deemed "the worst kept secret in football" had finally been made public and all the paperwork finally sorted out. He still faces a lengthy rehabilitation from an operation on his achilles but is adamant he will be back and fighting for a place in the Villa squad sooner rather than later.
He said: "There is no way I will be ready to play a part in the Intertoto competition or even the start of the season but I am delighted that the worst kept secret in football is finally out and I can finally celebrate being a Villa player.
"To have the deal out in the open is great and I can now tell people I am an Aston Villa player which is a great honour for me. I am happy to officially be a Villa player now and it will hopefully put paid to those Baggies fans who keep stopping me and hijacking me to ask if I am going back to them again."
Davies admits the first fixture he looked for when the new season’s matches were released last month was Villa’s meeting with his former club who he is delighted managed to secure promotion back to the Barclays Premier League as Coca Cola Championship winners last season.
He said: "We meet West Brom quite early in the season so that has to be my target match back. But seriously I outlined when I came here that I wanted to push on and play European football and I feel that is possible here at Villa. I feel I have already achieved a lot in the 12 games I have played since I joined this club.Hopefully next year I will improve even more and get even more games in the team and go even further."
Davies, who joined Albion from Luton Town in a £3 million move in 2005, continued: "I did take a look at the fixtures and look out for West Brom and I did see that Villa face them quite early in the season. That encounter may come too soon for me but I am very keen to be fit as soon as possible and pushing for a place again."
Davies concedes manager Martin O’Neill has yet to make any new signings thus far in this transfer window but will probably bring in additional defensive cover when he does start to splash the cash on team strengthening. But the England hopeful insists competition is healthy for him and the team.
"At the moment there is only myself, Zat Knight and Martin Laursen. We are the only defenders in the club and we have no right back," Davies said.
"Olof Mellberg’s departure means that apart from Craig Gardner, who has occasionally played that position, we have no right back and I am sure Craig would rather be pushing for his own position in midfield.
"I fully expect new palyers to come in and defenders to be amongst them but I will not give up my place easily. I will be pushing all the way once my fitness allows."
Davies continued: "I am not worrying too much that the manager will sign a centre-half. I think we actually need one. I am sure the gaffer is looking to strengthen further by first getting a right back but then possibly across the board.
"If anyone comes in and starts doing well I hope that once I come back to full fitness they will be looking over their shoulder and realise I aim to come back and take their place.
"From next season we are allowed 18 in a squad with seven subs and at the moment I think Villa only have 17 fit players in total. But this manager knows what he is doing and I think fans need to be patient and trust him. Hopefully my signing now will be the first of many. "