Exclusive: Bruce delivers Aston Villa relegation verdict after 'Kick up the backside'

Alex Bruce insists he hopes defeat in the League Cup final can be the “kick up the backside” Aston Villa need to stay in the Premier League.

The former Leeds United and Hull defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, believes there are positives for Dean Smith to take after their 2-1 loss to Manchester City.

The Villans, who started last weekend one place outside the relegation zone, saw results go against them in the Premier League, pushing them to 19th and two points away from safety.

Bruce insists that he saw something to suggest Smith and his men could avoid the drop, admitting keeping their star players fit could be the key.

Bruce told Football Insider: “I think the cup final, even though they got beat, I thought their performance was very good. I think they can take a positive out of it.

“I think a lot of people have been saying that, can they take a positive out of the cup final result? Can they take that into the league and hopefully give them a kick up the backside and rally them together to secure safety.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“It’ll be a tough ask, they’ve got some tough games, but I think the key players, the likes of Tyrone Mings, Jack Grealish, keeping them fit is going to be vital. If they can do that they’ve got as good a chance as anybody in staying in the league.” 

Villa’s next game sees them take on high-flying Leicester City on Monday night, before a home tie against Chelsea.

Their trips to Newcastle and West Ham are the only fixtures against relegation rivals between now and the end of the season.

In other Aston Villa news, Michael Brown has warned Smith after a “huge” update from Villa Park.