Steve Bruce says automatic promotion 'very, very difficult' for Aston Villa
By Sam Mason-Jones
Last Updated: 12/04/18 4:02pm
Steve Bruce played down Aston Villa's chances of automatic promotion ahead of their clash with Leeds on Friday, but insisted his side are still "in the mix".
Villa currently sit five points off second place places with four games to play, which Bruce reckons gives them "an outside chance" of securing automatic promotion.
"It's going to be very, very difficult now to pip Cardiff or Fulham," the Villa manager said, ahead of his side's home game with Leeds tomorrow night, live on Sky Sports. "We can't give up and we won't give up on trying to get promoted."
"We're there or thereabouts, and we've been there or thereabouts since Christmas - and we've still got a chance. And if we go through the play-off route, we go through the play-off route.
"All we can do is try to win our games. But we've got to try, we've got to try to put some pressure on them."
Villa did exactly that on Tuesday night, beating Cardiff 1-0 thanks to a last-gasp screamer from Jack Grealish. Bruce is keen to capitalise on the momentum that this victory could lend his team.
"We've got to really try and benefit from winning the last game by winning tomorrow. Then we can apply that little bit of pressure - and it's always difficult to play football when you're under pressure," Bruce said.
He was, however, wary of the challenge posed by Leeds and courteous about tomorrow night's opposition.
"Leeds are a big, big club with a big following, a big history, a big tradition - so we can expect a big, tough game," he added.
The Villa manager did offer a warning to his opposite number Paul Heckingbottom, suggesting that night games at Villa Park 'always bring out the best' in the Villains.
Bruce said: "On our day, we're a very, very good side. We don't fear anybody, that's for sure as we've beaten all the top teams. It's all to play for and let's enjoy the challenge of the next few weeks."
Despite its scale, Bruce appeared to be relishing his task and eagerly anticipating the coming weeks.
"If you don't enjoy these moments, then there's no point being a manager," he said. "We've got something to play for, so let's enjoy the challenge of it."