By Graham Hill
VILLA boss Dean Smith insists his players must not let the pressures of the Play-Off run in get to them.
Bristol City reignited their top six bid with victory over Middlesbrough – and they will be the next visitors to Villa Park later this month.
Villa travel to face their former manager Steve Bruce at Sheffield Wednesday this weekend before an away trip to struggling Rotherham.
It promises to be a tense finish to the season despite Villa’s excellent record of five wins in a row.
But Smith says his players must relax up to a point – and enjoy the fact they are still in the shake up for promotion to the Premier League.
The Villa boss told the club’s official TV channel: “I want the players to be relaxed when they go out and play football. I want them to go out and enjoy their football.
“I feel that players want to play the brand we’re trying to play. The training sessions have been intense, they’ve been tough but they’ve been enjoyable at the same time.
“I feel the lads walk off the training pitch knowing they’ve got something out of it.
“I feel they have learnt something and that’s important because every human being wants to come out of their workplace and feel like they have learnt. I feel we are certainly pushing the players.
“The only thing that can stop us is ourselves really. If we’re right every game, we will be absolutely fine. We need to keep it going.”
Smith says if the squad can stay focused then they can finish in the play-off spots.
They have Leeds and Norwich as their final opponents this season – but Bristol City are also playing Derby as well as Villa.
The permutations can go Villa’s way, but they cannot afford many, if any, slip ups.
Smith added: “I’m feeling a bit of everything when it comes to emotions.
“I’m certainly focused. I’m focused on the next game and then the one after that and then the one after that, as you have to be.
“But I’m certainly excited too. When you get 39,000 fans in to watch you it’s fantastic. The noise levels were superb on Saturday. The support was fantastic at the weekend.”