By Graham Hill
VILLA boss Dean Smith says his side’s work ethic is the factor that will take them close to sealing a play-off place.
In recent seasons, tales from the club’s dressing room have not always made pleasant reading for fans.
But here is something to make fans believe the squad has a Premier League place in their sights.
The players have actually been asking to train LONGER.
Smith says his team are putting the hours in at Bodymoor Heath – and hopes that will be reflected in the final eight games of the season.
The Villa boss is building up for Saturday’s clash with Blackburn Rovers and a possible fifth win in a row.
Smith told reporters: “They’re chomping at the bit in training and we’ve had to rein them in when they’ve wanted to be out there for longer.
“It’s good to have players out there wanting to work hard.
“We are not working too much on fitness now.
“It’ll be tactical and maintenance work to make sure they peak in games,
“With the sports scientist department that we’ve got here, we will manage the loads, but there’s still a lot of energy out there.”
Smith knows expectations are building and the players are clearly up for the challenge of a late bid to win promotion to the top flight.
He added: “We’ve had a good little break and had a few players away on international duty.
“The lads who stayed here had Friday and Saturday off and all the preparation now is for Blackburn.
“We’re looking forward to the run-in after giving ourselves an opportunity with our recent results.
“We need to make sure we continue the run. It’s exciting.”