Alan Hutton claims that Dean Smith has given Ross Barkley the freedom to demonstrate his “fantastic” ability at Aston Villa this season.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Villa and Scotland star insists “there’s no one better” to give the 26-year-old the confidence he needs than his old manager.
Barkley scored his second goal in as many games on Sunday as he struck the winner against Leicester City.
The former Everton star struggled for regular game time with parent club Chelsea and he made just 13 starts for the Blues last season.
Hutton insists that Smith is the perfect manager to get the best out of the 33-cap England star and believes the Villans are already reaping the rewards of their relationship.
Hutton told Football Insider: “I think there’s no one better to give him the confidence that he needs than Dean Smith. He’ll have him round, saying: ‘Come here, you’ll play week in, week out, do your thing on the pitch and express yourself.’
“That’s what a player like that needs, a forward-thinking player, he’s not scared to give the ball away or try things, he’s not going to get shouted at, he’s just been told to go and play and enjoy your football.
“We can see that already after a couple of games. We can see the impact and effect that he’s got, even on others round about him, he’s bringing the best out of others as well.
“We all know he’s a great talent, he came through at Everton and moved to Chelsea – that doesn’t happen to an average player, he’s a very good player.
“I think Dean Smith’s just given him that freedom and he’s lapping it up at the moment, he’s been absolutely fantastic.”
In other Aston Villa news, a young talent has been told he has a big part to play in the senior side this season.