McLeish urges new boy Stevens to make his mark
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has challenged new signing Enda Stevens to make the step up from the Irish League to the Premier League.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 left-back became Villa's first signing of the January transfer window as they made good on a pre-contract agreement with Shamrock Rovers, Stevens's former club, by signing the defender on a three-and-a-half-year deal.
"It will be nice to have another body in the squad and Enda is a player who has got some potential," McLeish said.
"He's a young player. There was a wee bit of interest in him and we decided to sign him," the former Aberdeen and Scotland centre-half added.
"It is up to Enda to hit the ground running and do well and leave me thinking 'let's get this guy involved.'
"We are hoping he will get to grips with everything, adapt very quickly to put pressure on guys like Stephen (Warnock)."
Dublin-born Stevens joined Rovers in December 2009 and helped them win the league title at the end of his first season.
Now he has joined a Villa squad featuring several full Republic of Ireland internationals and Stevens said: "It's a dream move for me, a dream come true. It was a bit surreal meeting the likes of Shay Given, Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland.
"They're massive names back home but they have been great in welcoming me to the club and helping me to settle in.
"I'm really looking forward to the challenge and my intention is to do as well as I possibly can here. I'm really determined to do that and that's my focus.
"I have to work hard, I need to apply myself and I know I have plenty to learn.
"But I'm young and I'm hungry and this is what I'm here to do, to improve as a player, to contribute over time and to become the best player I can possibly be."
Stevens added: "Aston Villa has a reputation and a tradition of producing top-calibre young players.
"The likes of Ciaran Clark, Marc Albrighton, Barry Bannan, Chris Herd, Gabby Agbonlahor all having come through the Academy and they have been important players in the team this season.
"You're learning every day in training when you play with such quality players as we have. Training is at such a high standard that it's only going to benefit me."
Villa are presently 12th in the table following a 2-0 defeat at home to promoted Swansea on Monday.
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