His lucky break came at the expense of a red card for team-mate Zat Knight but now defender Curtis Davies has made his way into Martin O'Neill's high-flying Aston Villa side, he does not intend to give it up again at any price.

Davies joined Villa in the summer in a season-long loan deal from West Bromwich Albion with the view to a permanent move at the end of the season.

But he was beaten to a place in O'Neill's defensive back four at the start of the season by just 48 hours after Knight signed on the dotted line two days before him in agreeing a move northwards from Fulham.

Davies then picked up a slight hamstring strain which ruled him out of the running while Knight scored a goal on his Villa Park debut in the impressive 2-0 defeat of Chelsea.

From then on, Knight became O'Neill's No 1 choice to partner Laursen at the centre of defence until Knight's dismissal in the thrilling 4-4 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Davies has been quietly biding his time on the sidelines for four months and had thought his chance of breaking into the first team severely hampered after a poor performance against Leicester City in the Carling Cup.

He later described his performance in Villa's defeat as being "like that of a pub player" which did little to help his career but won him an army of support.

But Knight's suspension forced the manager's hand and Davies did not disappoint when given his opportunity, scoring on his debut in Villa's 2-1 hard-fought victory over Wigan Athletic at the JJB Stadium last month.

The former England Under-21 skipper played his fourth consecutive first team match on Saturday in Villa's 3-1 defeat of Reading and hopes his run in the side will long continue.

Davies, aged 22, said: "I am enjoying getting a bit of a run in the side. When you just come in for one game, you don't really get into a rhythm, so to play four games now is great. I am trying to get into my stride and playing more of the game I want to play."

Davies admitted the beginning of his career at Villa had been frustrating, particularly after he ended the season playing little in the way of regular first team football with Albion.

He said: "When I came here, I had a slight hamstring injury which set me back a couple of weeks. During that time, the lads did so well that I couldn't complain at not being in the side, but it was a long and gruelling time on the bench. Now I have got in the side and I am doing okay. I am definitely hoping to stay there."

Davies said he was aware his unlucky team-mate was pushing him to get back in contention but said the healthy competition could only be to the benefit of Villa because it was bringing the best out of both young players.

He said: "With someone like Zat pushing to get back, you are never in a comfort zone so I know I will have to do well in every game to keep my place. Hopefully, I can establish myself though for the rest of the season."

Davies has grown in stature and ability week on week in his performances at the back for Villa, where he says he is learning a lot about the art of defending from Martin Laursen.

He said: "He is teaching me tips on defending, but he also teaching me how to score! Whenever Martin goes up there for a set-piece, he looks like he is going to score.

"Against Reading, he could have had a hat-trick there was one where (Reading goal-keeper) Marcus Hahnemann saved well and another header which went literally six inches wide. That was unlucky.

"Wherever the goals come from, that was a good win. Set pieces definitely seem to be our strong point."

Davies joked: "I think I am playing a decoy role. I make the space for Martin and he pops up here with the goalscoring opportunity.

"I had one half-chance and it would have been nice to score, but I am there principally to defend."