Bannan: Our time is now

Manager Alex McLeish sent out a youthful side to face Hereford in

the Carling Cup on Tuesday and was rewarded with a 2-0 victory

courtesy of late goals from Eric Lichaj and Nathan Delfouneso.

Bannan enjoyed a full 90 minutes of action and was particularly

happy for close friend Lichaj. He said: “I was delighted for Eric.

He is one of my good mates and I’ve come through the ranks with

him. “Every time he plays for the first team he gives it absolutely

everything he’s got. “I believe he’s improved too and that’s no

surprise because he’s a hard worker. Eric puts everything into

training and deserves everything he gets. “Scoring the opening goal

against Hereford topped off a great performance from him.” The

American delighted the Villa fans after breaking his duck for the

club by celebrating with the eye-catching “chicken noodle soup

dance” – which stems from his time at the University of North

Carolina – and laughed off the subsequent mockery which came his

way. Lichaj explains: “I always said I would celebrate my first

goal with the dance and I just had to do it. “All the lads knew I

did this stupid dance which is a big hit on the internet. “I got a

bit of stick after the match but it was all fun as scoring my first

goal for Villa is the most enjoyable moment of my football career.”

Bannan was also full of praise for the performances of

up-and-coming strikers Delfouneso and Andreas Weimann. It was only

after the two young strikers were drafted into the game that Villa

scored their two goals and Bannan said: “It is great to have

players like them to come on late in the game. “When Darren Bent,

Emile Heskey and Gabby Agbonlahor are missing it is brilliant to

have these lads to come into the side. They are chomping at the bit

to impress and this is brilliant for Aston Villa. “Like a lot of

young players at Villa they have come through the youth system and

now it is their time to impress.” Former Scotland boss McLeish was

also suitably impressed with the form of Delfouneso and Weimann and

said: “I expect them to be hammering on the door to get into the

first team. They have the ability.”