Dean: We’re ready for crunch time

By Graham Hill

VILLA boss Dean Smith says it will time to get down to the ‘nitty gritty’ when they return from the international break.

With eight games to go, Villa are back in the top six and aiming to secure a play-off place.

And four wins on the trot sent Smith and his squad into the break on a high.

Now he wants to make sure Villa do not waste that momentum when the campaign picks up again – starting with a home game against Blackburn.

Smith told the club’s official website: “We’re really looking forward to it.

“I know it’s an important time when I do my six-week planner and I’m at the penultimate game of the season.

“We know we’re getting to the nitty gritty part of the season. We go into that in good form.”

Smith recognises the fact that few players can say their place in the team is safe at the moment.

He added: ”There’s great competition at the moment, too. People are having to work really hard to keep their shirts.

“I see a competitiveness in training. And now, in matches, there’s players reaching the top of the ability and others getting close. I want to keep pushing the boundaries of how good they can be.”

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