Eric Lichaj has been studying the form of Alan Hutton to learn what it takes to challenge Villa’s regular right-back for his place.
Lichaj has been an unused substitute for four of the claret and blues’ past six matches after recovering from surgery on a hip problem.
But the American defender knows he must remain patient if he is to compete with Hutton for the No.2 role in Alex McLeish’s first XI.
McLeish has kept faith with the Scottish international who has shown signs of improvement after an indifferent start to his Villa career.
And Lichaj admits he has been trying to pick up tips by watching the former Tottenham full back in action in training and on matchdays.
“Even before he came here I thought Alan was a good player when I saw him play for Tottenham and Scotland,” said Lichaj.
“We have got a back four who are almost all internationals so that shows the challenge there is to get into the starting line-up.
“It is going to be hard to get in, but I’ll work hard and hope I can get my chance.
“I can learn from Alan. He is experienced in the Premier League and at international level for Scotland. I’m just starting out compared to him, but I’m learning all the time.
“When I’m at his age I’ll still be learning.
“A lot of the older players pass on bits of information. They don’t do it all the time, but they can give you little pointers here and there.”
Lichaj, 23, knows the standards required to be a Premier League full-back after admitting his previous run in the first team rightly came to an end.
He was dropped by former manager Gerard Houllier after a poor performance in the defeat at Manchester City midway through last season.
Since then Lichaj’s only senior action for Villa was in the Carling Cup win over Hereford in August when he scored his first goal on a rare start.
“It was tough, but I played badly against Manchester City so probably deserved to be dropped,” he admitted. “It worked out OK though as I went to Leeds United on loan and did well there.
“On the back of that the US called me up and I started playing with them. I played in the 2011 Gold Cup which was a great experience.
“Hopefully I can get back into the team here and also with the US.
“At the time I was dropped by Villa I was a bit hard on myself, but I’m a bit more philosophical now.
“Sometimes it just won’t be your day. Some days you’ll play brilliantly.
“I know in my mind the level I can reach so it is a matter of trying do that.”