By Amir Mir
Aston Villa left-back Joe Bennett wants to challenge fan favourite Jordan Amavi and Aly Cissokho for a first-team spot this season.
Bennett signed for the Midlands club in 2012 for then-manager Paul Lambert, but the young defender has seen his game time restricted to only 30 appearances in four years.
After two disappointing loan spells last season for Bournemouth and Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday, the 26-year-old wants to challenge the highly-rated full-back Amavi for a first-team spot.
“I know I’ve got a lot of competition with Aly Cissokho and Jordan Amavi,” Bennett told the club’s official Twitter account. “I’m looking forward to the battle for the shirt.”
Amavi made ten appearances for the club last season, before suffering a knee injury which kept him out for the rest of the term, but the Frenchman impressed supporters with his technically efficient attacking and defensive performances.
Meanwhile, Cissokho has been highly criticised by supporters for his lacklustre defensive and attacking displays which saw him part of a team that conceded 76 goals in the 2015-16 Premier League season.
Bennett made his senior debut as a teenager when he graduated through the Middlesbrough academy as he notched up 85 appearances for the club in the second-tier.
After a number of successful seasons, a move to Villa Park transpired where he has failed to live up to his potential, but wants to prove to supporters that he is prepared to fight for the team.
“It’s a huge season for me and I am really determined to show the manager, my team-mates and the fans what I’ve got,” said Bennett.
“My No.1 aim is having a good season, contributing as fully as I can and helping this great club return to the Premier League.”
The Midlands outfit were relegated into the second-tier of English football last season after a humiliating campaign which saw them pick up only 17 points.
In other Aston Villa team news, Arsenal legend and ex-Villa player hopes Roberto Di Matteo’s side can make an instant return to the Premier League.