Fabian Delph praises Man City fans for shielding him from abuse during Villa return
Fabian Delph believes Manchester City fans protected him after his first return to Aston Villa.
The midfielder ran the Villa Park gauntlet in Sunday's 0-0 draw as he faced his former club following his controversial summer move.
Delph initially rejected the chance to join City before producing a dramatic U-turn and signing for £8million.
It came just seven months after he penned a four-and-a-half year deal at Villa and he was mercilessly taunted by the home crowd, who also hissed at him after dubbing him a snake for leaving in July.
Delph has only just returned from a hamstring injury and admitted his comeback at Villa was an eye-opener.
"It was great, the fans gave me great support and had my back. It was always going to be interesting coming back," he said, after the point kept City top of the Barclays Premier League on goal difference.
"Obviously we never picked up the three points but we never lost the game. We got a point and have to concentrate on the next run of games.
"It's been really difficult (being out), I had a lot of injury problems when I was younger but I seemed to have overcome them. This is the first time in about four years I have picked up a niggle. It's been frustrating but I'm back now and back fit. I'm ready to push on now."
Delph will now link up with the England squad ahead of their friendlies with Spain and France after he initially suffered his hamstring injury in the first minute of the Three Lions' Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland in September.
His substitute appearance at Villa Park was his first league game back and he is now eyeing England duty as a chance to get fully fit before City host Liverpool when he returns.
"I'm not 100 per cent, I have been coming on in the last couple of games but hopefully during the international break I'll get a couple of games there and be firing and ready to go," he told the club's official site.
"I always look forward to international duty, it's something I really love. They are two big games and hopefully I can play a bit longer than I did in the last game."