Date published: Wednesday 30th September 2020 3:27
Ross Barkley had admitted he joined Aston Villa to boost his England hopes, and claims both Dean Smith and Jack Grealish played significant roles in luring him to Villa Park.
The Chelsea midfielder has moved to Villa Park on a season-long after falling down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.
The summer arrivals of Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, plus the presence of Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic, left Barkley facing up to a bit-part role.
The 26-year-old has started just 28 Premier League games since arriving from Everton in 2018 and, with the European Championships next year, he wants to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans.
He said: “The last couple of years I’ve been stop-start, performing well and then being out of the team.
“To come here and have the chance to play and perform regularly is a big thing for me. With the Euros at the end of the season, it’s a big target for me and hopefully I can be there.
“Dean Smith swayed me with the way he spoke to me, and it looks like it’s going to be an exciting season.”
Barkley is cup-tied for Thursday’s Carabao Cup visit of Stoke as Villa, beaten finalists last season, look to reach the last eight.
Grealish has starred in Villa’s unbeaten start to the season and Barkley revealed the Villa skipper played a part in convincing him to come to the club.
“We’re mates off the field and we know each other well,” he told the club’s official website.
“We’ve spoken previously and I’m looking forward to playing with him.
“I’ve spoken to him over the past couple of weeks and he’s been telling me about how good the club is and how welcomed I’d be when I came here.”