Smith senses play-off run
Dean Smith believes his Aston Villa side have renewed confidence for their play-off push after their recent improvement in form.
Villa looked out of the promotion picture in January but have won their last three games in the Championship to force their way back into contention.
Smith's side are now eighth, two points behind Derby in the final play-off place, and entertain another team hoping for promotion this season, Middlesbrough, on Saturday.
After vital wins over local rivals Birmingham last weekend and then Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, Villa take on fifth-placed Boro with a spring in their step and Smith hopes they are hitting top form at just the right time.
"It’s very important to be winning games in March, April and May," he said in his press conference.
"We’re hoping that we haven’t given ourselves too much to do with the points we dropped in January. We have to move forward and look ahead now.
"There’s nine games to go, we need three points in each game. The results and performances have given us that confidence."
He added: "Playing the teams above you, we have got to catch them. Middlesbrough are in a position where we want to be. We have to put on a really good performance and beat them.
"It’s nice to get those wins in quick succession. It tightens the league up for us. We’ve just got to look at the next game and everybody is in a positive frame of mind."
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Aidan Perkins is a senior journalist that specialises in football stories. Aidan, a Liverpool fan, also has a broad knowledge of several other sports.