By George Brooks
Aston Villa defender James Chester has praised teammate Mile Jedinak and highlighted the midfielder as the key player in the club’s promotion challenge.
Jedinak made his long-awaited return to first-team action in the goalless draw with rivals Birmingham at St. Andrew’s on Sunday.
The Australian international had been out with a groin injury and changed the game when he replaced Robert Snodgrass after an hour on Sunday.
Chester was delighted to see Jedinak return to the first-team set-up.
“Mile is perfect for us in front of the back four,” said Chester, speaking to the club’s official website.
“I always tell him that last season I didn’t have to head the ball for about six months. When he plays in front he is great for me.
“It is the experience and knowledge. He also adds another physical dimension to us. In midfield he protects me and JT really well. We are grateful for him.”
Villa have taken 23 points from their opening 14 league games, their highest points tally at this stage of a season since the 2008/09 Premier League campaign.
Jedinak could feature for Villa when they face Preston North End at Deepdale in the Championship this evening.
The Villans will move up to fifth place in the table with another victory, but will be leapfrogged by their opponents with a defeat.
A four-game winless run has seen Preston slide down the league table, but boss Alex Neil will take confidence from the fact his side took four points from their two league meetings with Villa last season.
In other Aston Villa news, this Sky Sports pundit is predicting a tough game for Steve Bruce’s side at Deepdale tonight.