Steve Bruce reaping benefits of Aston Villa 'big player' policy

Steve Bruce reaping benefits of Aston Villa 'big player' policy

Aston Villa paid tribute to former defender Jlloyd Samuel, who died in a vehicle crash at just 37 on Tuesday, as a 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough at Villa Park booked their place in the Championship playoff final.

On a night when Villa Park honoured Jlloyd Samuel, the former Villa defender, the stadium rocked and a pressure valve was released as Steve Bruce's side moved one step closer to a Premier League return.

"You know that individual will not get fazed by playing for Aston Villa".

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough's Daniel Ayala came off in the second half on Saturday with a knee injury and misses out, so Tony Pulis has opted to start the young Dael Fry in defence in his stead.

"(We've produced) Two very good performances away and at home tonight.

The match began with a minute's applause for former Villa defender Jlloyd Samuel who died earlier on Tuesday at the age of 37 in a vehicle accident.

Stewart Downing rattled the crossbar with a free-kick in the 88th minute, after Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone had perhaps been lucky not to be sent off for handling the ball outside the penalty area, but Villa were not to be denied.

"I'd have loved to have bought 24-year-olds and paid £25m for them", said Bruce, who described the play-offs as "the best thing the EFL has done".

Steve Bruce claims that the latter stages of Aston Villa's Championship playoff semi-final victory over Middlesbrough were "agony" but is happy to be going to Wembley. "There's still 90 minutes to play and anything can happen", he said.

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