Shaun Maloney has no regrets about giving up Champions League football with Celtic for the Premiership with Aston Villa because the chance to work with Martin O'Neill again was too great to turn down.
Had the young utility player remained with Celtic he would surely have played for the Glasgow club against AC Milan last week in the last 16 of the Champions League.
When Celtic drew 0-0 it meant they can go to Milan for the second leg next week optimistic of reaching the quarter-finals.
Maloney has seen little action with Villa, completing only 90 minutes after being in the starting line-up for the match away to Reading on February 10, but he sees the move to Villa Park as a step forwards.
He has been working hard on his fitness and, having returned with the squad from a week in Spain, is hopeful of playing in the match away to Fulham on Saturday.
Maloney has played two Champions League matches for Celtic this season, against Manchester United at Old Trafford and against FC Copenhagan at Parkhead. He has also played in six Champions League matches in previous seasons, not to mention the Uefa Cup with Celtic in 2003.
Maloney flourished under O'Neill when they worked together with Celtic and now the player sees it as an important step to renew acquaintances with the manager.
"It was a very big decision for me [to give up on Champions League football with Celtic]," Maloney said. "And, no, it wasn't one I took lightly.
"But when the manager of this club spoke to me, I realised it was a massive challenge. This is a big club I am coming to. The level of performance I will have to put in to get into the side is something that excited me. I am happy with my decision.
"When Aston Villa came in, I was just delighted the move came off before the transfer window deadline.
"He [Martin O'Neill] was a big, big part of the decision. And Aston Villa, being a big club, was also a part.
"Obviously, knowing the staff from my time at Celtic, I knew exactly what I was coming into. I enjoyed my time at Celtic when he was there and after he left."
Maloney joined Villa on January 31 but, by his own admission, was short of match fitness. His final match for Celtic took place on November 26, against Hibernian, and it was 76 days before he made his Villa debut.
At face value, Villa's three-week absence without a match would not have helped Maloney but he sees it differently. The break, which included five fruitful days in Spain with the rest of the Villa players, benefited Maloney and has given him the opportunity to bond with the squad.
"The time without matches has given me a chance to work on my fitness and other things," Maloney said. "In the Reading match, I struggled in the final 15 minutes or so. I knew I needed to work on that.
"I joined Villa having not played a match in nearly two months. I have worked hard since and I would love to be involved in the match against Fulham."
Mark Delaney, the Villa right-back, has flown to the United States to see Dr Richard Steadman, the renowned knee specialist, who operated on the player last month.
Delaney has been walking with his leg in a brace since the operation but is hoping to be granted approval to step up his rehabilitation, with a view to playing at some point this season.
Delaney has been heartened by the support of O’Neill, who says that he will keep an open mind on the future of the Wales international defender, whose contract runs out in the summer.
Jlloyd Samuel, the Villa left-back, is understood to be attracting interest from Middlesbrough and Bolton Wanderers.
Samuel is likely to be allowed to leave Villa on a free transfer in the summer and the two Premiership clubs are monitoring his situation.
Samuel, who was selected in the England squad in May 2004, has slipped down the pecking order with Villa this season, especially with Wilfred Bouma finally showing his best form since arriving.