Tom Huddlestone reached an impressive career milestone as Derby County further strengthened their grip on a Sky Bet Championship top six spot on Saturday afternoon.
Gary Rowett’s side made it three wins in a row with an impressive 2-0 victory against Aston Villa at Pride Park Stadium, thanks to goals from Andreas Weimann and Johnny Russell.
Huddlestone played a key role in the win with another typically strong midfield display as he reached the 500th appearance of his professional career in club football.
That statistic is even more impressive when you consider that the Academy graduate, who re-joined Derby in the summer for his second spell at the club, is still only 30.
Huddlestone, who has made 116 appearances for Derby, certainly believes he has plenty more games in the tank moving forwards - while he is still craving his first-ever Rams goal.
He told RamsTV after the game: “I wasn’t aware until I got in the dressing room that it was my 500th club appearance, but it’s certainly a decent milestone to reach.
“I’m still only 30 years of age and I feel that Il have plenty of games left in me.
“However, it might not be another 500!”
He added: “I still need to get that first Derby goal, obviously. From 116 games for the club I should have got a few by now.
“I would like to think I’ve got one or two in me for the back end of the season to chip in and help the front players.”
Looking back on Saturday’s win, against a fellow top six rival that has been strongly tipped for return to the Premier League, Huddlestone admitted Derby had to work hard to claim all three points.
Villa enjoyed the majority of the possession over the course of the game, but the Rams remained solid and, crucially, patient throughout.
Weimann opened the scoring against his former club with 24 minutes on the clock, after Matej Vydra had pounced on Glenn Whelan’s poor back-pass to cross for the Austrian to fire home.
With nerves rattling around Pride Park as Steve Bruce’s men pushed for a leveller, Russell sealed the win in added time with a cool finish after Man of the Match Richard Keogh powered forward from the back to play the substitute clear.
Huddlestone said: “It was a graft. The way Villa came and set up, without a recognised striker on the pitch to start off with, we knew it was going to be tight and difficult.
“Both teams were almost waiting for each other to make a mistake and when they made one, Vyds (Matej Vydra) pounced on it and played Andi Weimann in to score the first goal.
“That gave us something to hold on to before we got the second goal settled a few late nerves.
“It was like a FIFA goal to be honest with Rich Keogh bursting forward from defence and ‘pressing triangle’ to send Johnny clear.
“I thought his first touch was a bit heavy at first and the chance had gone, but he toe-poked the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs.
“That rounded things off nicely and now we move on to Millwall next week. They had a great win against Middlesbrough so we will sit down this week, analyse them and then come up with a game-plan to try and get another result.”