Friedel recognises top-four fight

Villa new boy well aware of challenge ahead

Friedel: Hopes for improvements

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Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel admits his new club are going to find it difficult to break into the top four of the Premier League this season.

"I am not going to get entwined in the Gareth Barry affair. All I can say is that he is a tremendous player."

Brad Friedel

Quotes of the week

Friedel completed a £2.5million move from Blackburn to Villa Park at the weekend as the 37-year-old looks to end his career on a high.

However, the American confesses Villa - who finished sixth last term - are going to have a tough time improving on that performance.

And Friedel has tipped the likes of Everton, Tottenham and Newcastle to offer competition in the battle to gatecrash the Premier League's elite.

Ambition

"Realistically, you cannot say how Villa will perform," said Friedel.

"They finished sixth last season and I know the chairman, Randy Lerner, and the manager Martin O'Neill's ambitions are to move the football club forward.

"You never want to go into a season thinking that you are going to do worse than the previous campaign. But it is going to be hard as the Premier League is always difficult.

"You have teams like Newcastle United, who are going to perform well, while Everton and Tottenham are both very good teams. Tottenham are not going to have such a bad season as they did last term.

Barry battle

"If Villa bring in some new players and everyone stays fit and healthy we have every chance to have a good season."

And former Liverpool shot-stopper Friedel recognises that Villa's challenge would be boosted if they can keep hold of Anfield target Gareth Barry.

"I am not going to get entwined in the Gareth Barry affair. All I can say is that he is a tremendous player," Friedel added.

"I would like all the top players to remain at Villa but any transfer talk is not down to me to answer or comment on."