THE hunger in Danny Drinkwater’s eyes helped persuade Aston Villa manager Dean Smith to sign him on loan for the rest of the season.
Smith is confident the 29-year-old can recapture the form that helped Leicester to win the Premier League title in 2016 — before an ill-fated £35million move to Chelsea the following year — and help fill the void left by Scotland midfielder John McGinn’s expected absence until late March with a fractured left ankle.
‘Everybody knows about him from his Premier League-winning season with Leicester,’ said Smith. ‘He got the move to Chelsea and it probably didn’t work out the way he would have liked.
‘Then he had a loan move to Burnley this season and he hasn’t played as many games as he would have liked, but from meeting him I liked the hunger — I saw it in his eyes.
‘He has a lot to prove now because it hasn’t happened for him at Chelsea. We’re going to give him an environment where he can flourish. From what I’ve heard from other people, and himself, his hunger and desire to play has always been there.’
Drinkwater is cup-tied for tonight’s EFL Cup semi-final, first leg at his old club Leicester because one of his two appearances for Burnley came in the competition earlier this season but he will be available for Sunday’s home league game with Manchester City.
Drinkwater said: ‘I’m massively excited, especially with it being a club as big as Villa. It’s a pleasure to be here. Hopefully I can hit the ground running.’