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After battling against relegation for the majority of the last campaign, the midfielder believes the squad have bonded and are ready to fight further up the standings this term

Ashley Westwood is confident that Aston Villa can build on last season and progress under Paul Lambert.

The midfielder was one of Lambert's first signings before the start of the previous campaign and went on to become a regular starter and important member of the first team before penning improved terms earlier in July.

Westwood acknowledged that it was harder than they would have liked to achieve survival but predicts the experience will stand them in good stead for the new season.

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"It's a really exciting season in prospect," Westwood told the club's official site.

"The team came through a lot last season and we feel like we've progressed together and are better for the whole experience.

"We're also stronger as a squad with the signings the gaffer has made this summer and everyone's looking forward to the season and can't wait to get it started."

Westwood's neat passing football and high energy levels have made him a popular figure at Villa Park and the 23-year-old was quick to credit his football education at Crewe Alexandra for shaping him as a player.

"I lived for football and at the Alex I learnt how the game should be played," he added.

"That's helped me here at the Villa as it's very similar what we had at Crewe to the ethos and values that are in place here.

"Everybody knows the exceptional success rate of the academy here and, from speaking to the likes of Ciaran Clark, Marc Albrighton, Nathan Baker, Chris Herd, Andi Weimann, it's very clear that the way you represent the club off the pitch is tremendously important as well."

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