New deal for Ridgewell
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Aston Villa have rewarded young defender Liam Ridgewell with a new three-year contract.Aston Villa have rewarded young defender Liam Ridgewell with a new three-year contract.
Ridgewell has signed a deal to stay at Villa Park until 2008 after impressing David O'Leary this season.
The centre half has been a regular in the team, due to a long-term injury to Martin Laursen, and has caught the eye with some solid displays.
The England Under-21 international is perceived to be a key figure in the club's long-term plans and O'Leary was anxious not to lose Ridgewell.
After a loan spell at Bournemouth earlier in his career, Ridgewell has steadily established himself in Villa's first team squad.
He admits he was worried about his prospects for this season and remains confident there is still plenty of room for improvement.
"I knew in the summer that the manager was looking at bringing another centre half in," Ridgewell told the club's official website.
"He was looking for competition all over the place.
"But he didn't get the centre half and when Martin Laursen got injured, that was my chance. I think overall I've done okay but, like the rest of the back four, I know I can get better.
"The strikers are judged on their goals and we're judged on clean sheets. We've only kept one, which is disappointing. But we've brought in a new right back and a new left back, so it can take time to get things right.
"Our best performances at the back have probably come at Man United and Chelsea but we lost both those games."