By Dominic Toner

Aston Villa defender Joran Amavi has insisted he is fully focused on preparing for next season as he strongly hinted he will remain in the Midlands.

The 22-year-old has just returned to full training after nearly eight months on the sidelines following the knee injury he picked up on international duty with France’s Under-21-side in November last year.

The left-back is widely regarded as one of the team’s prize assets 12 months after his transfer from Ligue 1 side Nice and is also a popular figure among Villa supporters.

He told the official Villa website: “We are all working very hard because we know the challenges we face next season to get this club back into the Premier League.

“For me, I had a very big injury but, after eight months without football, I am here and I feel I am a stronger person having gone through that bad time.”

Despite only playing a handful of games last campaign for Villa, he impressed the club’s supporters with his technically astute attacking and defensive performances.

Last month Liverpool were reported to be interested in the young defender, however he is fully focused on helping Villa regain Premier League status.

Amavi joined Aston Villa last July for an undisclosed fee and signed a five-year deal with the Midlands club. He previously racked up 54 league appearances for French side Nice, scoring three goals in that time.

Manager Roberto Di Matteo has added defender Tommy Elphick and young goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini to his squad already and has also made his mind up in the pursuit of 20-goal Championship forward.

In the latest Aston Villa news, they are bracing themselves for a £9million bid for their striker.