Steve Sidwell has promised Aston Villa that his best is yet to come and insists he is walking with ‘broad shoulders’ after being given a new lease of life in claret and blue.
Sidwell is hoping to be in Gerard Houllier’s first matchday squad for Monday night’s Premier League trip to Stoke after overcoming an Achilles’ problem.
And the former Reading and Chelsea midfield dynamo is delighted to have a fresh chance to prove himself after a stop-start career at Villa over the past two seasons.
Sidwell was put up for sale at the end of last season but failed to secure a transfer away from Villa Park during the summer despite strong interest from Fulham.
The 27-year-old is raring to go after playing 90 minutes in Villa’s 4-0 reserve team win over Blackpool at Bodymoor Heath on Monday.
With Houllier’s arrival imminent Sidwell is determined to prove that former boss Martin O’Neill was right to pay £5 million for him in July 2008.
“I feel I’ve shown glimpses,” he said. “In the previous years, there have been good games and some poor games.
“If I get a run of games I am sure I can perform to the best of my ability. Hopefully now whoever takes charge I will just get an opportunity and I will take it.”
Despite James Milner’s departure, Sidwell still faces fierce competition for a central midfield place in the new manager’s team.
Captain Stiliyan Petrov and new signing Stephen Ireland are the first-choice starters in the claret and blue engine room with Nigel Reo-Coker also challenging.
Fabian Delph will add to Villa’s options when he returns from a serious knee injury early next year, while youngster Barry Bannan is also strongly staking a claim.
“Everyone is walking with broad shoulders thinking they have got opportunities and chances,” added Sidwell.
“So it is going to be tough but it is down to individuals to perform in training, perform in reserve games and show the manager you are worthy of a start.
“Once you get that, you have to take it with both hands. Fitness-wise, I’ve been training really well and looking sharp. It is just games that I need. I wasn’t unfit before the injury took place.”