Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is not ruling a push for the playoffs, despite their woeful run of results of late.
The Villains have won just two of their last 13 games in the Championship, a run of form which leaves them down in 10th, two points behind their second-city rivals, Birmingham City.
However, with 13 games still to play, the Villa Park outfit are still only nine points behind sixth-placed Bristol City and 10 points behind Middlesbrough in fifth.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s game against Stoke City, who have also struggled in the second tier this season, Aston Villa boss Dean Smith urged his side to ‘battle and scrap’ in order to make a final assault on the playoff places.
“Every team is playing each other and no one has run away with it,” Smith said in his pre-match press conference.
“The break that is opening up is the top four, with Albion winning on Tuesday. Then, it’s a scrap from there.
“Our job is just to try and win each game when it comes. We know we’re not on a great run at the moment but we’re working hard to change it.
“Look at Stoke – they were favourites at the start of the season to win the league. We lost the Play-Off Final last season. People would have fancied both teams to be there, but at the moment it’s a mid-table game.
“We have to go there, battle and scrap and come away with three points. Then we need to climb towards that top six.”
When the teams last met back in December, the score finished 2-2.