By Will Butcher

Chairman Tony Xia has called on Aston Villa’s squad to maintain their progression ahead of Sunday’s Midlands clash against Birmingham.

The owner is desperate to see his new side win against enemies Birmingham and secure him a late birthday present.

Posting on his personal Twitter account,  Xia, who turns 40 on Wednesday, called on his Villa squad to remain focused on themselves and forget about any external influences ahead of the Midlands derby.

Xia has seen an instant transformation in fortunes since opting to axe manager Roberto Di Matteo after just one win in 12 league and cup encounters.

The decision looks to have paid off, as promotion expert Steve Bruce has orchestrated two wins and a draw in his first three games including Villa’s first away win since August 2015.

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Chinese businessman Xia bought Villa back in May 2016 from despised owner Randy Lerner, and has since spent almost £60million on nine new players including the likes of Ross McCormack, Jonathan Kodjia and James Chester.

A win for Villa could see Bruce’s side move into the top half of the Championship table for the first time this season, as they look to secure their fourth domestic win of the season.

In other Aston Villa news, Robbie Savage has had this to say about the upcoming derby clash.