Harries recalls fond Villa memories
Heading to Villa Park will hold fond memories for defender Cian Harries when Swansea City look to secure passage through to the fourth round of the FA Cup this afternoon (3pm).
The 21-year-old has a lifelong connection with Aston Villa and used to sit in the Trinity Road Stand as a youngster dreaming of one day running out at the famous old home.
Yet, when he did so in October, it was in Swansea City colours rather than those of the club whose academy set-up he was part of between the ages of six and 14.
While the result was not what he had wanted as the Swans suffered a 1-0 defeat, it was still a special moment for the left-footed centre-back.
“Starting at Villa Park was a dream come true,” says the Wales Under-21 international with a smile.
“When you’re growing up in the academy, you’re dreaming about walking out in a claret and blue shirt. But, walking out in a Swansea shirt was just as good for me.
“I had no idea I was going to play. It was sprung on me three hours before kick-off. I thought I did myself justice on the day and tried not to get overwhelmed.
“It’s something I’ll never forget because I have so many memories of going to Villa Park.
“I got to see around three-quarters of the home games when I was growing up in the academy.
“I remember when Martin O’Neill was in charge and they had a really good team with the likes of Ashley Young, James Milner, Gareth Barry and Stiliyan Petrov in midfield.
“They were pushing for a place in the Champions League and probably could’ve sneaked in, but the top four were strong at the time and they didn’t quite make it.
“They’re a big club and I still check their results, but not when we’re playing against them!”
That game at Villa marked Harries' first league appearance since joining Swansea in the summer of 2017, and came on the back of his first-team bow against Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup.
He also started the 2-2 draw with Wigan over the Christmas period, and knows if he keeps working hard further chances will come under Graham Potter.
“The door is always open, especially with the manager and his staff,” he said.
“I just have to keep my head down, keep going and, hopefully, the manager will give me another chance.
“If he does, I’ll have minutes under my belt and be ready to do myself justice.
“That’s what I’m hoping for and looking to build on in 2019.”