By support

6th Apr, 2017 | 12:18pm

Aston Villa chief: This is where we must improve

By Matt Farr

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce insists his side must learn to retain possession better if they are to fulfil their ambitions.

The Championship club have performed a dramatic turnaround in form in recent weeks, winning seven of their last eight games in a late surge towards the promotion race.

Villa spent much of the campaign languishing deep into the bottom half of the Championship table and all but out of the promotion race, but they are now up to within just nine points of the play-offs.

However, Bruce has admitted to the Birmingham Mail that there is still considerable room for improvement, in particular in his side’s ability to keep the ball.

The Villa Park chief believes his side were careless in possession despite their recent 1-0 win over QPR on Tuesday, and urged his side to stop making life difficult for themselves.

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He told the Birmingham Mail: “If we’re being honest we have to look after the ball better. We made hard work of it we became a bit edgy and gave the ball away in bad areas towards the latter part of that game.

“I think we still have to be better on the ball, we still have to look after the ball and I think that’s the next step. The next step is to be more progressive.

“On the big stage and in the big arena we made too many silly mistakes late on, give the ball away, bad mistakes bad choices and the higher you go of course you get punished for things like that.”

During Aston Villa’s last two home matches, both wins against Norwich and QPR, Villa have finished with less than 40 per cent possession.

They last recorded more than 50 per cent possession, either home or away, during the 2-0 win over Bristol City at Villa Park on February 28.

But as Bruce fears, if Aston Villa are to stand any chance of a return to the Premier League, or in avoiding immediate relegation to the top flight, they need to shrug off their careless passing.

Aston Villa travel to Burton Albion in their next Championship outing on Saturday.

In other Aston Villa news, an international midfielder has revealed his biggest regret with the club.

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