Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill insisted it was worth waiting for Stewart Downing’s full debut after the England winger helped guide the club within sight of Wembley.
Downing netted last night against Portsmouth in his first Villa start, with the 4-2 victory at Fratton Park sealing a place in the Carling Cup semi-finals.
The 25-year-old has just recovered from a fractured foot and O’Neill believes there is more to come from the player he signed in the summer knowing he would miss the first part of the season.
“His performance suggests he was worth the wait,” said O’Neill.
“It was really fantastic. He is not really properly fit yet. That was 20 minutes against Burnley, nothing against Tottenham on Saturday night, but I was always going to start him in this match.
“I was really pleased with him. What pleased me most was his ability on the ball. He can manoeuvre it, he can play and he’s got a turn of pace when he’s fully wound up.
“Properly fit, he’ll be a proper player for us.”