Barry Bannan backs Aston Villa to avoid relegation scrap

Aston Villa host Reading this evening

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The Independent Football

Barry Bannan has vowed to prove wrong those who have tipped Aston Villa for relegation this season.

Villa are in the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League ahead of tonight's home clash with fellow strugglers Reading.

But midfielder Bannan believes Villa have enough quality to move out of trouble and has been encouraged by their performance in the previous two home games with Manchester United and Arsenal.

With a visit to another struggling side, QPR, to come on Saturday, this could be a crucial period for Villa.

Bannan said: "It hurts when people tip the club to struggle this season

"But it's up to us to prove them wrong - and that's what we will do.

"In that changing room we've got quality. We're a bit young but I think we are confident in our own ability.

"We acquitted ourselves well against Manchester United and Arsenal but I think our season starts now with the games we've got up and coming.

"We all know in the changing room that they are winnable games."

However, Bannan is taking nothing for granted against the Royals.

He said: "I've not seen much of Reading. I've seen a couple of games they've had on television. But it's one of the best leagues in the world.

"You are not just going to turn up on Tuesday and turn teams over because they've just been promoted.

"They are going to be battling for their lives so it is going to be a tough game and we will show them the same respect as Arsenal at the weekend."

Bannan has been impressed with the performances of Christian Benteke who has replaced Darren Bent as Villa's main striker.

The Belgium international caused problems for the Gunners defence although he has now gone four games without a goal.

Bannan said: "I think so far this season Christian has been brilliant.

"Sometimes it doesn't go for you in games but I think he made up for it against Arsenal by working hard and putting their defenders under pressure."

Villa skipper Ron Vlaar is doubtful to face the Royals after the central defender suffered a calf injury against Arsenal and was substituted early in the second half.

If he is ruled out, then Matt Lowton is likely to join Ciaran Clark at the heart of the defence with Eric Lichaj being recalled at right-back.