Alex Bruce admits he would give Aston Villa manager Dean Smith more time as the club face a “horrible” run of fixtures.

The former defender and son of ex-Villa boss Steve Bruce, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, claims the players cannot start feeling sorry for themselves amid their relegation battle.

As revealed exclusively by Football Insider, Smith’s position at Villa Park is under serious threat, with the club holding internal talks over promoting John Terry from assistant manager to take charge.

Bruce admits that the pressure is natural when you’re at the bottom of the table but says it could be considered a good season if the Villans can avoid the drop.

Bruce told Football Insider: “I think when you’re in a relegation zone and you’re at a big club like Aston Villa, you’re always going to be under pressure, that’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately.

“They’ve got horrible fixtures so it’s going to be tough, it’s really tough. If they start feeling sorry for themselves they’re going to be in trouble.

“I believe managers should always be given time but I’m going to say that because I’m the son of one! When you look at it, he got them promoted, got them to a League Cup final, if they scrape survival, people will probably say it’s actually been an alright season.”

Villa play teams sitting in the top-six of the table in each of their next four fixtures, with home ties against Chelsea, Wolves and Manchester United and a visit to Liverpool.

They currently sit 19th in the fight for survival, two points off safety.

In other Aston Villa news, Kevin Phillips has delivered his verdict on the Danny Drinkwater bust-up.