Villa boss Bruce heading to Norwich with automatic promotion on his mind

Conor Hourihane celebrates after scoring Villa's second goal against Reading. Picture: PA

Conor Hourihane celebrates after scoring Villa's second goal against Reading. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Steve Bruce returns to Carrow Road this weekend insisting his Aston Villa side are still in the hunt for automatic promotion.

Villa had an easy 3-0 home win over struggling Reading on Tuesday which left them fourth in the table, seven points behind second-placed Cardiff, who have a game in hand – and play leaders Wolves tomorrow night.

Bruce, an old hand at the Championship play-offs, said: ''We have to win on Saturday but the top two play each other.

'There are going to a few twists and turns.

'Obviously Fulham are there or thereabouts. The way they are performing at the moment, and to have the run they have had, is remarkable.


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'There are seven games to go and there is a chance we can win promotion and remember, we take on Cardiff at home next week.

'After a difficult couple of weeks there was a freshness about the team and I was very pleased with the performance against Reading,

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'If we can go up automatically, then great. If we can't then let's go through the play-offs. If we play like we can do with a big crowd and big support, I think that will suit us.'

Villa outplayed Reading for almost the entire game and the Royals, who were reduced to 10 men for the last hour, succumbed to second-half goals from Birkir Bjarnason, Conor Hourihane and Scott Hogan.

One-time Norwich City target Hourihane's 62nd-minute goal was something of a milestone as he became the first Villa midfield player to reach double figures in season since it was last recorded by David Platt in 1991.

Bruce said: 'He has more goals and assists in the Championship than any other player. For £1million from Barnsley this is terrific. Well done to him.'

Bruce was pleased with the result against Reading and added: 'It was a frustrating first half when we had 74 per cent possession and it was a case of when we scored.

'It took a wonder goal from Bjarnason – a really great goal – who had his best game for Villa.

'He was excellent and I am pleased for him because he has had to adapt.'

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