COMMENT by Amir Mir 

Aston Villa and Steve Bruce have strong ambitions of returning back to the Premier League this season.

The Midlands giants are currently five points off the final play-off spot and 13 points adrift of Brighton, who hold an automatic place.

Since Bruce replaced Roberto Di Matteo in the Villa Park dugout, the claret and blue club have looked a different animal under his stewardship.

Here, Football Insider looks at the three reasons why Villa could challenge higher than a play-off spot during the course of this season:

Steve Bruce

His promotion expertise is beginning to show on the team as Villa are unbeaten in the six games he has taken charge of, three of which they have won.

Bruce has added a clear plan to the Villa set-up, making them hard to beat, bringing the best out of his midfielders and ensuring they have the mindset to play for 90 minutes.

This will make them a very dangerous side as the Championship enters the second-half of the 2016/17 campaign.

Attacking threat

Bruce has an abundance of attacking talent at the club, in Jonathan Kodjia, Jordan Ayew, Albert Adomah, Jack Grealish, Rudy Gestede, Ross McCormack and Gabby Agbonlahor.

There are players who have either scored 20 goals in a single season in the second-tier or they have valuable Premier League experience. All of which will aid the club over the course of the season.

Villa have scored 18 goals in 17 games this season, with six goals coming from forward Kodjia in 12 games.

But as proven on Friday night against Brighton, who have the best defence in the league, Villa can cause any defence problems due to the variety of attackers they have.

January transfer window

Despite spending £50million on transfers during the summer window, Bruce will no doubt want to bring in his own players as Villa aim to push up the table.

Owner Tony Xia has stated that they will spend money in January, which will make them a much stronger force as the Midlands club know they can attract high quality players to Villa Park.

In other Aston Villa news, manager Steve Bruce must wrap this player in cotton wool if they want to secure a play-off spot.