Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has backed his team to continue their recent upturn in fortunes with a win against relegation rivals Sunderland, who currently sit just a point above the fourth-bottom Midlands side.
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Sherwood, who was quoted by Sky Sports, said: “I think it’ll be a photo finish and I hope we’re not in it. We’re probably just coming around the corner but it’s probably the longest run-in in racing history.
“All we’re looking at is the next fence and that’s Sunderland. After that we hope we can stay in the running, there might be a few who fall along the way and we’re hoping that’s not us.”
The former Tottenham Hotspur boss was full of praise to how his squad have responded to his leadership, adding: “They’ve been good and a win makes an awful lot of difference. They have been focused and up for the fight.
“They haven’t dwelt on the position. It’s about looking forward now, what we have done previously counts for nothing.”
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s game against Sunderland, Sherwood highlighted Jermain Defoe as the Black Cats biggest danger-man. Discussing Villa’s relegation rivals, he admitted: “If Sunderland are going to survive it’s going to be Jermain who keeps them in the Premier League, that’s why they forked out that sort of money for him.
“He didn’t have to go, he went for a lifestyle change to Canada but he still has that appetite to come back and play for Sunderland – in a relegation battle.
“He can score goals on his own but he prefers people to slide the ball across the six-yard box for him to be in the right place at the right time, that’s what he’s done all of his career.”