By Amir Mir

Paul Merson has stated that if Aston Villa can beat Birmingham City on Sunday afternoon then they can start “believing” about promotion to the Premier League.

Sky Sports pundit Merson believes Steve Bruce’s side are taking on their bitter rivals at the right time, having picked up back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

They picked up their first away victory since August 2015 when they beat Reading 2-1, then picked up three points at home to Fulham.

Now, Villa take on their arch enemies in a second City derby at St Andrews, with local pride at stake as well as a much-needed three points.

These were the views of ex-Arsenal midfielder Merson ahead of the big derby showdown.

“If you’d have looked at this game three weeks ago as a Villa fan you’d have been thinking the last place we need to go is Birmingham,” Merson told Sky Sports.

“But the form has turned around. There wasn’t too much wrong at Villa, they just needed to start turning draws into wins.

“If Villa win this game, they will start believing that they could go and get promoted to the Premier League.”

These two sides last met in November 2015, when then-Premier League side Villa beat their rivals 1-0 in a League Cup encounter at Villa Park.

Now, Bruce’s side are 16th place in the Championship table with 17 points, six behind Gary Rowett’s men, who are a place below the final play-off spot.

In other Aston Villa team news, supporters react with mixed views on Twitter to the possible return of Gabby Agbonlahor against Birmingham.