Barry Bannan pens new Villa contract

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On-song Aston Villa youngster Barry Bannan has been handed a new three-and-a-half year contract by manager Gerard Houllier.

The 20-year-old has impressed in Villa's first team since breaking into the starting line-up under the Frenchman and the new deal ties him to the Midlands outfit until the summer of 2014.

The diminutive star's explosion onto the Premier League scene culminated with him earning a Scotland call-up for Tuesday's 3-0 victory over the Faroe Islands at Pittodrie.

After failing to impress former boss Martin O'Neill, Bannan was loaned out to Blackpool last term. He was a used substitute in the Seasiders' Championship play-off victory over Cardiff City in May and recently spoke of his admiration for Houllier.

"Last year I was on loan at Blackpool and only playing games now and again," he said."When O'Neill left Villa, I hoped someone would come in and give me a chance and trust me and the last few weeks have been a breath of fresh air for me.

"Obviously, it has been a big change in fortunes for me. It's not just me. It's encouraging to see a lot of young lads coming through now.

"I know I'll have to work my socks off to stay in the Villa team. Hopefully, I'll be able to put together another few good displays."

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