McLeish - The pressure's on

Villa boss defends recent performances ahead of Bolton clash

Alex McLeish: Says Villa are up for the challenge of facing Bolton

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Alex McLeish is aware of the importance attached to Tuesday's game against Bolton as Aston Villa look to ease their relegation fears.

Villa have been dragged into the scrap for survival over the past few weeks by a combination of their own poor results and the improved form of some other struggling teams.

They still have a five-point cushion going into the final few weeks of the season but face a crucial test in midweek when Owen Coyle's Trotters visit Villa Park.

McLeish maintains that his players will be ready for the challenge and is confident of emerging triumphant.

"It's a huge game and the players are aware how important it is. We all are," he said.

"If we show the commitment we have shown in recent home games we can earn the right to win this.

Concentrate

"It is a high-pressure game. Everybody knows what is at stake so I wouldn't imagine that any player is frightened to go into battle.

"They know what they have to do and we know what we have to do."

If Bolton win on Tuesday they would close to within three points of Villa, still with a game in hand, but McLeish's side also have the chance to move eight points clear of the drop zone.

Villa have not picked up a victory in their past six games but McLeish says recent performances have been encouraging, with young players acquitting themselves well during an injury crisis.

Asked if beating Bolton would leave Villa safe, McLeish said: "If we concentrate on this game and can win this game, then we will see what happens next.

"Our recent lack of winning obviously shows where we are. Form-wise, the amount of injuries and the young kids that have come in, we have performed well, if not the top quality that we would expect at Aston Villa."