Smith: Next few games crucial to Villa's hopes
Aston Villa v Sheffield United, Live Sky Sports (KO 7.45)
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith knows the forthcoming run of fixtures could be pivotal to his side's Championship play-off hopes.
Villa, ninth in the table and four points shy of a top-six spot, host title-chasing Sheffield United tonight before a trip to Brentford and a home derby with promotion hopefuls West Brom next week.
It represents an important nine days for Smith's team, who have won only two of their last 10 league games, but he is optimistic about reviving Villa's campaign.
"It's a test but that is what these games in the Championship are all about, you want to be tested," Smith said. "We've got a three-game week coming up beginning with Sheffield United and then my old club Brentford and then a local derby against the Baggies on the Saturday.
"They are tough games but these games are opportunities. If we can put in three good performances and get a good points haul then the world looks a different place."
Blades boss Chris Wilder has attempted to ease the pressure on his team by insisting they are under no pressure or expectation to get promoted to the Premier League - unlike some clubs.
Wilder believes there will be many more twists and turns before the end of the season.
"You have to look at it the right way, just before Christmas we were well off it," he said. "We've got everything to play for but there isn't a gun to our head to get promoted."