Mile Jedinak hopes play-off experience helps Aston Villa's promotion push
By Alice Piper
Last Updated: 10/05/18 11:34am
Aston Villa midfielder Mile Jedinak is hoping his experience as a Wembley play-off winner will help the club's Premier League promotion bid.
Villa finished fourth in the Championship to set up a two-legged semi-final against Middlesbrough, with a trip to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday before the return at Villa Park the following Tuesday, both live on Sky Sports.
Jedinak captained former club Crystal Palace to promotion in 2013 and says memories of the famous win over Watford will be fresh in his mind, as Villa look to return to England's top flight after a two-year absence.
"It can't be taken too lightly," Jedinak said of his experience of winning a play-off final.
"All I have to do is take myself back to that time and remember how it was with the first experience. I think, if you haven't experienced that as a player, it will be nice to pass that knowledge on.
"I remember at the time we had a manager who had experienced that very recently and he passed on his knowledge to us.
"That was invaluable and I think, if we do get to that point, I think there's a few in this squad that have had those experiences before."
Jedinak, who joined Villa two seasons ago, says his team-mates are relishing the task ahead and insists the players will do "everything we possibly can" to return to the top tier.
"If you had given us this position at the start of the season we would have taken it," he said.
"Now that we're here finally, it's something that we're all really looking forward to. Not only as a playing group, but as a football club.
"We've just got to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to make sure that the outcome is the right one for this football club."
Steve Bruce's side approach the semi-finals unbeaten against Middlesbrough in the Championship this season having won 1-0 at the Riverside after a goalless draw at Villa Park, but Jedinak believes league form plays little part in the outcome of the play-offs, given what's at stake.
"It's going to be about who can control their nerve the most over the two legs and hopefully that will be us," he said.
"It's going to be looking ahead. It's a one-off. It's who can hold their nerve on the day with the whole experience and the build-up and then produce a performance that deserves to make you go up.
"I remember the year we went up we didn't beat Watford in the league. We had a draw and a loss, so it goes out the window.
"You've just got to focus on that day. That 90 minutes, that 120 minutes or whatever it may be and you put all your efforts into that.
"You're not playing for three points - there's something greater at stake. I think when you put all those things together, that's why league form can go out the window."
Premier League promotion is not the only focus over the coming weeks for Jedinak, as the Australia captain prepares for his third World Cup campaign.
The 33-year-old spearheaded the Socceroos' charge to qualification by scoring a hat-trick in their play-off against Honduras to send his country through with a 3-1 victory.
"I don't think I'm going to need chill time. There's a lot here at stake and there's a lot of stuff going on here in the next few weeks," said Jedinak.
"We actually meet up earlier than the play-off final. They've already sussed out my programme.
"I think it will just be from one rush and one high, hopefully, and taking it through. At the end of the day, you're preparing for a World Cup. It doesn't get any bigger."
Don't miss the first leg of the play-off semi-final between Middlesbrough and Aston Villa on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Football from 5pm
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