‘Like a new signing’ - Steven Gerrard delivers Leon Bailey claim ahead of Bournemouth opener

The Jamaican international struggled for a consistent run of games last season due to injury.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard believes Leon Bailey has the potential to be ‘like a new signing’ for the claret and blue as they head into the 2022/23 campaign.

The Jamaica international who signed from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen last summer, has failed to live up expectation so far during his stint at Villa Park - largely due to a number of injury set-backs throughout his first year in the West Midlands.

But after working hard throughout summer, Bailey has come back a different man, both physically and mentally.

He was undoubtedly Villa’s best player throughout the pre-season schedule and Gerrard says the 24-year-old has himself claimed that he now has ‘more confidence and belief in his body,’ after what was a tough year last time out.

“I don’t think we need to add any unnecessary pressure to Leon at all but using his words and listening to what he’s saying is, he feels like he’s got more confidence and belief in his body,” Gerrard explained. “I think that’s important.”

“He’s had bad luck since he came to Aston Villa with injuries and hasn’t really been able to get himself in the right physical condition to find his own personal level of consistency.

“I’ve seen a different demeanour in Leon since day one. I see a happier player, I’ve seen someone that’s been robust throughout the training and coped with the physical demands ever so well. The quality has been there for everyone to see.

“I don’t think his own personal preparation could have gone any better and if we get the best version of Leon Bailey it will feel like a new signing for sure because we didn’t feel like we got the best version of him and that was probably down to physical reasons.”