Bruce keen to avoid a re­peat of blip which ru­ined Villa

Birmingham Post - - SPORT - Foot­ball Writer

STEVE Bruce reck­ons con­sis­tency over the course of the sea­son is the key to pro­mo­tion. Villa have given them­selves a solid plat­form to build on but the boss in­sists there’s plenty more to come.

Ahead of to­mor­row’s trip to Pre­ston, Bruce has called on his troops to step it up af­ter fail­ing to see off the last two teams away from home.

But while he wants to see more, he is also sat­is­fied with the way the first three months of the sea­son have panned out.

Villa’s down­fall last sea­son was their in­con­sis­tency. A dread­ful start un­der Roberto Di Mat­teo, fol­lowed by an equally dis­ap­point­ing pe­riod at the turn of the year un­der Bruce, ef­fec­tively ended any pro­mo­tion hopes.

Asked whether it was a case of cut­ting out those pe­ri­ods this term, Bruce said: “You hope so, but it’s the Cham­pi­onship, re­mem­ber.

“It’s in­evitable that all teams have (a blip). You don’t want the blip at the cru­cial time. What’s im­por­tant is how you get out of them.

“We’ll have to do it quicker than last year be­cause if we don’t I know what the con­se­quences will be.

“We hope we can find a con­sis­tency. We’ve cer­tainly re­sponded well this sea­son and we know we can only get bet­ter.”

Villa have re­sponded well to de­feats this sea­son by re­cov­er­ing in the fol­low­ing games.

They are now on a de­cent run of just one de­feat in 11 games, even though Sun­day’s 0-0 draw at Blues wasn’t the out­come they had hoped for.

“It’s just typ­i­cal of the Cham­pi­onship,” added Bruce.

“We saw a few coupon-busters last week­end with Wolves los­ing at QPR and Bris­tol City win­ning at Sun­der­land, a rel­e­gated team last year. That’s what the Cham­pi­onship is all about.”

Manch­ester United mid­fielder Michael Carrick is happy to stay at Old Traf­ford de­spite in­ter­est from As­ton Villa.

That’s ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­ports from ESPN who sug­gest that sources close to the player have in­formed them that Carrick wants to stay at United un­til the end of his con­tract in the sum­mer.

The 36-year-old is yet to play a minute of Pre­mier League foot­ball un­der Jose Mour­inho this sea­son, hav­ing only played once in the Carabao Cup.

And Villa have re­port­edly been joined by West Brom and Le­ices­ter City in the mar­ket for the ex-Eng­land in­ter­na­tional. How­ever, it looks like they will be left dis­ap­pointed with re­ports that Jose Mour­inho wants to keep Carrick at the club as he helps out coach­ing the un­der-14s side.

Rushian Hep­burn-Mur­phy is still bat­tling his way back to full fit­ness af­ter strug­gling to over­come in­jury prob­lems that have haunted him for over a year.

The teenage striker is now nurs­ing a knee in­jury sus­tained in his come­back from a pre­vi­ous ham­string prob­lem and is at least a month away from re­turn­ing to full train­ing.

Hep­burn-Mur­phy has just started light run­ning drills and is be­ing care­fully mon­i­tored at Body­moor Heath af­ter a se­ries of set­backs.

But he’s quickly be­com­ing Villa’s for­got­ten man as the likes of Keinan Davis and Cal­lum O’Hare have pro­gressed into the first-team dur­ing his lengthy ab­sence.

“It’s a big dis­ap­point­ment be­cause I’ve been here for a year and I’ve only seen him play a cou­ple of times,” said Bruce.

“His prob­lems are on­go­ing and it’s a con­cern be­cause he keeps break­ing down.”

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