Aston Villa mood is ‘feisty’ ahead of Wembley clash

Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce says his side have been straining at the leash ahead of the Championship play-off final – so much so that he was forced to cut short training.

A mini-match was in danger of getting overly competitive, with four days still to go before Villa’s Wembley showdown against Fulham, who the bookmakers have made favourites.

“On Tuesday I had to stop training early because they were champing at the bit – too early. It got a bit feisty to say the least,” said Bruce.

“It was very, very interesting. It’s not a bad sign. I’m not against it at all. It’s normal.

“We just stepped in and cut it a little short – shall we put it that way. And I hadn’t even revealed the team then.”

Bruce has since picked his starting line-up, going against protocol because of the magnitude of Saturday’s match.

He explained: “Usually in the past if you’re preparing for a big game and you know the team on a Tuesday – if I wasn’t in it then on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I’d have a face like a slapped arse.

“So for preparation in a one-off, it’s important in the preparation.

“But the substitutes can be match-winners too and I think the players have understood that. That’s why we’ve done it this time.”