Aston Villa’s Lewis Grabban targets Premier League promotion

Aston Villa striker Lewis Grabban wants to escape the spectre of Sunderland’s relegation with promotion to the Premier League on Saturday.

The 30-year-old started the season on loan at the Stadium of Light before making another temporary switch to Villa Park from Bournemouth in January.

He is likely to spearhead Villa’s charge in Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship play-off final against Fulham, live on Sky Sports Football, just five months after staring at relegation with the Black Cats.

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He cut short his 12-goal spell in the north east and scored eight times for Villa to finish as the division’s second top scorer with 20.

Without him Sunderland tumbled into League One after a second straight relegation and Grabban wants to complete a personal turnaround with promotion to the Premier League.

“Hopefully the relegation won’t go down too much on my record,” he said. “I have tried to get away from that.

Aston Villa midfielder Robert Snodgrass sat down with David Prutton ahead of their Sky Bet Championship play-off final against Fulham

“But it happens, I don’t think anyone thought at the beginning of the season that Sunderland could do that.

“I certainly didn’t. They’re in a semi-transitional phase and they need to start again and get back to where they probably should be.

“They’re similar in terms of Villa. You can’t put your finger on it, why it went wrong. With their relegation, it was the inevitable happened.

“Everyone expected it after a certain amount of time. It didn’t look like anything was going to change.”

Sky Bet take a look back at how Aston Villa saw off Middlesbrough in the play-off semi-finals to make it to Wembley

Grabban is heading into his fifth play-off final having won two and lost two, including last year’s penalty shoot-out defeat while on loan at Reading to Huddersfield.

Fulham have been tipped as favourites for Saturday’s showdown and Grabban wants to avoid successive Wembley woe as Villa look to end a two-year top-flight exile.

“I just wanted to get away, yeah [in 2017]. The joy of winning is a real high and the lowness of losing is like a ‘what if’ feeling,” he said.

“Obviously you have another chance to go again but the joy really lasts for a while. You can see it – teams get promoted and start the season really well. It can last for a long time.”