Steven Gerrard hailed Leon Bailey for changing the game as he came off the bench and scored in Aston Villa’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Saturday, saying the winger sent a ‘massive signal’ to be in the first team.
The 24-year-old replaced Danny Ings at half-time in Perth with the Villains two goals down, but was a huge part in turning things around for Gerrard’s side.
The Jamaican scored just four minutes after the break and Calum Chambers pinched a late equaliser to give Villa a morale-boosting draw against Erik ten Hag’s side.
Gerrard was delighted with the performance of Bailey, who suffered an injury-hit season last time around, and hopes he can continue to impress as the Premier League season approaches.
‘It was more than an impact. He changed the game, he showed energy, he showed speed, a hunger to cause problems and he’s come back in pre-season a different player,’ Gerrard said after the draw with the Red Devils.
‘Not just from a technical point of view – his demeanour, his body language. I think he’s trusting his body more, so we need to keep him healthy.
‘So far, for Leon, he’s sending me a massive signal that he wants to be in the 11, so he needs a strong two weeks.’
Gerrard was overall pretty pleased with his team’s performance in Perth, which kept up their unbeaten run in Australia following wins over Brisbane Roar and Leeds United.
‘I was really pleased with a lot of our defensive shape first half but we got one or two things wrong and conceded goals on the back of that,’ he said.
‘We weren’t good enough in possession to create in the first half. Second half was totally different. I thought our performance deserved to take something from the game.
‘I thought we could have scored another couple of goals. We had individuals who stepped forward and were outstanding. People have really jumped out in that second half and let me know they really want to be in the starting XI.
‘I’m pleased because I was frustrated at half-time, we had to iron a few things out. The players have gone out and been different in the second half for the better.’
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