Aston Villa are in the thick of the Sky Bet Championship promotion battle as they target a return to the Premier League.
Steve Bruce’s side sit fifth in the table ahead of their trip to Sheffield United on Tuesday night, which is live on Sky Sports Football, but are they ready for a crack at getting back to the top flight? We asked David Prutton…
What is Villa’s target this season?
Villa had a difficult December but since winning at Middlesbrough just before the New Year they’ve been in superb form in the league.
Scott Hogan in particular is back among the goals and that has been massive for them. They’ve missed Jonathan Kodjia badly this season and, Albert Adomah’s purple patch aside, they’ve lacked a regular goalscorer until now.
Now they’ve got their sights set on a top-two finish, but anything less than finishing in the top six would be incredibly disappointing for them.
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Barnsley. Is there still pressure on Bruce?
He’ll be under pressure because he knows what the expectations are at a club like Aston Villa. He was brought in due to his record of getting promotions, and he’ll know if he’s given the right amount of time that he’ll get them back up sooner or later.
He’s been as exasperated as anyone at their inconsistency at times this season, but he’s always been very up front and honest when he’s realised his team weren’t good enough. Their last defeat in the league at Brentford on Boxing Day was a perfect example of that.
I think he’s proved he’s got what it takes to get them to the Premier League, whether it happens this season or not. Villa were on the slide when he came in and it’s not always easy to turn that around, regardless of the size of the club. He should be given time to do the job he was brought in to do.
Sheff Utd vs A Villa
January 30, 2018, 7:30pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Is their squad good enough for the Premier League?
They would obviously have to strengthen their squad, as any side does after getting promotion. They’ve got an experienced Premier League manager but there’s no doubt they’d need another striker and maybe a couple of others as well.
Would John Terry fancy another season in the Premier League? You get the feeling he’d want to prove himself at that level again, despite having done it for so many years already.
They’ve got plenty of experience in their squad at that level as well, and there are also the likes of Conor Hourihane and Albert Adomah who deserve a crack at the top flight.
Who are their main challengers for promotion?
Assuming that Wolves continue to run away with it, it looks as though there are a fair few teams below them competing for the second automatic promotion spot.
You’d have Derby as the favourites right now as they occupy that spot and are on a good run themselves, and they’re similar to Villa in how they’ve built their success this season on having a solid base, much like Cardiff as well. The other teams around them such as Bristol City, Sheffield United and Fulham are often a little bit more cavalier in their approach.
It’s such a tight battle right now but if I had to narrow it down I’d say that Derby and Aston Villa are the main challengers for the top two, I can’t split them though! It could go right down to the final day of the season.
Don’t miss Aston Villa’s trip to Sheffield United in the Sky Bet Championship on Tuesday night, live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 7.30pm