Curtis Davies has hailed his Aston Villa team-mate Richard Dunne as a “bargain signing” and believes Manchester City are regretting allowing the Republic of Ireland defender to leave Eastlands.
Central defender Dunne, 30, had been skipper at City and spent nine years with the club but the arrival of Joleon Lescott and Kolo Toure meant his days were numbered.
He was allowed to join Villa for £6m on the final day of the summer transfer window and has played a massive role in their impressive push for a Champions League spot.
Dunne will be looking to help fourth-placed Villa achieve a fifth successive league win when they visit Arsenal on Sunday.
Fellow centre-back Davies, now back in full training after shoulder surgery, said: “I was surprised when Manchester City let Richard go.
“I did not think they would let him leave. They have brought in two good centre-halves in (Lescott and Toure) but we got Richard for £6m and they have paid something like £24m and £14m.
“I think we have got a bargain and he has been superb for us and also scored some vital goals.
“A lot of people think Richard is older than he is because he has been around a long time and he started as a young player at Everton.
“But you can see the quality he has, the form he is in and I think City are regretting letting him go.”
Davies is confident Villa have the strength in depth this season to sustain a push for a top-four spot during the second half of the campaign.
He said: “I was looking at the fixture list recently and there is one spell where I think Villa have got something like seven games in 24 days and, if we draw with Blackburn in the FA Cup, it would be eight in 24 days.
“It is a tough schedule and the games are coming thick and fast.
“Last season I think we used the least number of players of any team in the Premier League but this time we have a stronger back-up.”
Emile Heskey is Villa’s only fresh injury doubt for the trip to the Emirates Stadium.
The England striker picked up a groin problem during the weekend win over Stoke but Villa boss Martin O’Neill is hopeful he will be able to play some part during the festive programme.
If he is ruled out, O’Neill has a ready-made replacement in John Carew, who came off the substitutes’ bench to score the winner against Tony Pulis’ side.