Gabriel Agbonlahor has hailed Aston Villa manager Dean Smith’s faith in Ross Barkley as the reason for his extraordinary start to life in the Midlands.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, the former Villa striker claimed Barkley is benefitting from an extended run in a side that suits his style of play.

The England international has not missed a minute of football for his new club since making the temporary switch from Chelsea in September.

The 26-year-old has already scored twice and provided one assist for Villa in just five Premier League games.

In two and a half years at Chelsea Barkley played five consecutive league games just once, towards the end of last season.

And Agbonlahor believes his lack of playing time will make him think twice about a return to Stamford Bridge.

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He told Football Insider: “I think he sees Aston Villa as a team where he’s going to play.

“He was quiet against Southampton but he was selected against Arsenal so he’s got the support of the manager that even if he has an off game, he’ll still play the next game.

“I think that that’s quite important for players to know that you’ve got the backing of the manager and the manager plays football which suits your style and also you’re playing every week.

“At Chelsea, he was in and out of the team I don’t know why he’d want to stay at a club where he’s in and out of the side.

“It’s not like Villa are going to be fighting relegation. They’re gonna be fighting at the high end of the table this season so that’s where I’m sure he would love to be playing football and fighting for.”

In other Aston Villa news, Agbonlahor has identified two never-seen teens as future first-team stars.