Matt Lowton has been rewarded for his excellent debut season in the Premier League with a new four-year contract at Aston Villa.
The right-back justified the faith shown in him by manager Paul Lambert by taking the step up from League One to starting all but one game in the top flight for Villa last season and has been identified as England manager Roy Hodgson as one for the future at international level.
Lambert is keen to build a new regime of hungry, young players at Villa Park and the new deal for Lowton, which runs until 2017, is the latest in a long line of new contracts at the club this summer.
With the arrival of six new players in defenders Jores Okore and Antonio Luna, midfielders Leandro Bacuna and Aleksander Tonev, striker Nicklas Helenius and goalkeeper Jed Steer, the defender believes there are exciting times ahead under Lambert.
"It is a very exciting time for the club. We went through some difficult periods last season but we finished strongly and had won a lot of people over by the end of the season," Lowton told the club's official website.
"With the new signings this season as well as some players signing new contracts, the likes of me and Ashley, Andi, Brad, Ciaran and Nathan, it shows the club is moving forward and it’s really exciting to be a part of that.
"We all feel part of something here and we feel strongly that we're building towards something very exciting and positive for the club. You could see it right from the start of last season when I signed that the club was going to go with what the gaffer wanted. He wanted to put his plans in place and he stuck by his guns all season."
Lowton admits he was not expecting to make such an impact last term and feels he has to build on his breakthrough season and take his game to another level.
"My game is still developing massively. Every game you learn something new. The best way to learn is to play against the best players and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to keep moving my game on," he said.
"Last year was amazing for me. To do what I did surprised me a bit to be honest, but I took every game as it came and I did well enough to keep my place for the next game. That’s what I’m looking to do next season.
"I can’t be looking to rest on my laurels now after one season in the Premier League, I’ve got to push on and make sure I make that starting XI for the first game and hopefully continue that for the rest of the season.
"We’ve all worked hard to get here but now we’re here we’ve got to keep working and keep pushing on. We came through last season and we have to continue on that upward curve into next season."