By Will Butcher

Former Villa player Andy Gray believes promotion is still on the cards for Aston Villa after they appointed Steve Bruce as manager.

Bruce, 55, replaces Italian manager Roberto Di Matteo at Villa Park following the Midlands giants dismal run of just one win in 12 league and cup encounters, with their sole three points coming against Championship strugglers Rotherham.

Gray, who also had spells with Villa’s rivals West Brom and Wolves, told talkSPORT that Bruce is a “fantastic signing” and “there is still an opportunity” for promotion under their new boss.

“I think he’s a fantastic signing for Villa,” the former striker told Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show on talkSPORT. “It’s not too late for Villa, not this season.

“There’s still an opportunity for Villa to get into the top six, and if they do that then who would bet against Brucey taking them to another promotion via the play-offs?”

Fans will be hoping Gray’s claims materialise, with Bruce developing a reputation as somewhat of an expert at gaining promotion from the second tier of English football.

Bruce has masterminded four promotion from the Championship, achieving a place in the Premier League with Birmingham City twice before doing the same with Hull City before leaving this summer.

Bruce is set to be thrown in at the deep end at Villa Park, with the Midlands giants set to face rivals Wolves in Saturday’s tea-time Championship clash.

But the former Manchester United defender could face his toughest task yet, as he aims to remove the stench of relegation after last season’s dismal campaign.

In other Aston Villa news, Bruce has had this to say after putting pen to paper at Villa Park.