Dean Smith praised Aston Villa midfielder Henri Lansbury following his performance in the Carabao Cup.
Villa booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the competition by beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 on Wednesday night at home, with Liverpool their next opponents in the cup.
Anwar El Ghazi and Ahmed Elmohamdy were on the scoresheet for the hosts, while Patrick Cutrone netted for Wolves to equalise at one stage.
Lansbury was the headline act for Villa following his return to the side, as he started only his second game of the season.
The 29-year-old has only been given two late substitute appearances so far this campaign in the Premier League, but has featured in two of the three cup games.
He set up three goals in the second round win over Crewe Alexandra and was a creative force once again in the last-16.
Lansbury managed two assists against Wolves, with the first a deft through ball and his second a free-kick cross into the box.
Smith singled out the central midfielder for his latest contribution and feels he could be knocking on the door for more opportunities.
“I thought he (Lansbury) was excellent tonight, he cramped up a little bit at the end. Henri needed a game so really good we could get some minutes,” Smith said, as quoted by the club’s official Twitter account.
“Henri’s vision is there for everybody to see. The big thing for me since I’ve been here was keeping him fit, we’ve managed to do that since the start of pre-season and he looks like he wants to push.”
Lansbury’s record of five assists in just two starts this season speaks for itself and he helped dominate the ball in the centre of the park against Wolves.
He’s managed to avoid any injury problems so far this campaign, but has not played a lot of football in the last two years and it’s understandable that Smith is being cautious with him.
There is unfortunately immense competition for places in the midfield area, but Lansbury once again made the most of an opportunity and he should at least get to start the quarter-final against Liverpool.
The Englishman cost £3million (Sky Sports) from Nottingham Forest back in 2017 and that would be a tremendous bargain if he could get a run of starts together.