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Exclusive: Pro footballer issues his verdict to FLW on Aston Villa v Birmingham clash on Sunday

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Aston Villa’s run of six straight Championship wins has finally seen them achieve some consistency under Steve Bruce and has put them right in the mix for automatic promotion.

Former Hull boss Bruce has centred his transfer policy around paying big wages for experienced performers but finds himself in a promotion tussle with another Midlands side packed to the brim with experience in Derby County.

We caught up with Wycombe Wanderers midfielder Sam Saunders, who has appeared on Talksport discussing all things EFL, and he gave us his view on this weekend’s Second City derby, which both Villa and their bitter rivals Birmingham go into on good form.

“It’s going to be a tight game. They’re big affairs, a massive game so I think it’s going to be either a moment of brilliance or a mistake like you’ve seen in this fixture before.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up a draw. I think Birmingham are on good form, as well as Villa. If Birmingham keep Scotty Hogan and Robert Snodgrass quiet – those two have been on fire at the moment – then they’ve got a chance.

“It’s going to be tough for Birmingham but they’re going into this fixture possibly at their best time of the season so it’s going to be tight. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a score draw.”

Saunders also told us he sees the race to the Premier League being very tight indeed. “Derby are flying obviously and Wolves are gone. It’s whether they can catch Derby.

“They’ve both got experienced managers in the Championship, both experienced squads, both big budgets. It’s going to come right down to the wire.”

The former Brentford man also played alongside Scott Hogan during his time at Griffin Park and was able to shed some light on the man who has five goals in Villa’s last six games.

“He’s been very unlucky, he’s done two cruciates but even when I was at Brentford when he had his second cruciate, they gave him a contract right away. They just knew how good the boy was.

“He’s goals, goals, goals. He loves scoring goals, he hates it if he can’t score goals. He’s always on the defender’s shoulder, always causing havoc and stretching the pitch for the midfielders, the 10 and the wide guys coming in off the line.

“He’s a great boy – a really good lad – and a good friend of mine. I’m so pleased to see him back scoring goals for Villa. He had a slow start but now he knows he’s going to be that permanent fixture as a number nine, I can see him getting another ten goals come the end of the season.”

Villa fans – what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below…

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