CONOR’S MIS­SION

New As­ton Villa mid­fielder Conor Houri­hane wants a play-off push

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Ross Law­son

CONOR HOURI­HANE has pledged to draw on the play-off ex­per­tise he de­vel­oped at Barns­ley to fire As­ton Villa into the Cham­pi­onship top six af­ter his move this week.

Houri­hane joined from the Tykes, where he was cap­tain, on a three-and-a-half year deal and has al­ready set his sights on pro­pel­ling Villa up the ta­ble and into pro­mo­tion con­tention.

The 25-year-old mid­fielder scored 29 goals in 112 league ap­pear­ances for Barns­ley and helped the club from the foot of the League One ta­ble to pro­mo­tion in the space of a mag­i­cal few months last sea­son.

And he is keen to repli­cate that at his new club.

“For Villa, I hope we go on a run now and get into the play­offs,” said Houri­hane.

“That’s what we will be fight­ing for ev­ery sin­gle day in train­ing.

“And, if you have that mo­men­tum, like we did at Barns­ley, you never know what might hap­pen.

“We had a fan­tas­tic run and I knew go­ing into the play-offs we’d have a chance.

“We had so much con­fi­dence on the back of that good run. I knew we had a chance of win­ning it.

“If we can do the same, there’s no rea­son why we can’t end the sea­son on a high.”

Op­tions

Villa man­ager Steve Bruce fur­ther bol­stered his op­tions this week by bring­ing in an­other Barns­ley player, 19year-old right-back James Bree, as well as FC Basel mid­fielder Birkir Bjar­na­son.

The 28-year-old Ice­land in­ter­na­tional scored his coun­try’s first goal at Euro 2016, against Por­tu­gal, and is ful­fill­ing a child­hood dream with his move to Villa Park.

“In Ice­land and in Nor­way, where I grew up, English foot­ball is num­ber one,” said Bjar­na­son. “It’s re­ally big.

“Like ev­ery­one else grow­ing up, I wanted to play in the Premier League and play in Eng­land.

“This is go­ing to be a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity for me to ac­com­plish that.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HAPPY DAY: Conor Houri­hane cel­e­brates win­ning the League One play-off fi­nal with Barns­ley last term

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