McLEISH BACKS YOUNGSTERS TO SURVIVE
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish is aware of the financial implications of relegation, but is confident his crop of young players will ensure that scenario is avoided.
Villa go into Sunday's Barclays Premier League match at Liverpool only five points above the relegation zone and with a squad decimated by injury and illness.
The club suffered an increased loss of £54million for the financial year ending May 2011 and going down to the Championship would add significantly to their financial concerns.
McLeish said: "Has Randy Lerner (club owner) mentioned relegation to you? I think we could all do without it. It doesn't bear thinking about financially so that's why I believe that we'll stay up.
"We've got big challenges in the next eight games but I believe we have enough in us to get points.
"We'll try to win as many as we can. Would I take 15th spot now? Probably, absolutely."
McLeish concedes he always expected this season to be an uphill battle, but has no regrets about making the controversial switch from local rivals Birmingham.
He said: "It's not been easy and I knew it wouldn't be. I thought it would be tough, especially when you look at the comparison with the two squads from this year to last year.
"Last year's squad was a little bit stronger, so I knew it would be tough. But it doesn't mean to say that we can't finish another three or four places up the table.
"But I've never wished I didn't make the move. I never, ever look back and regret anything.
"You always wonder what you might be doing now if you didn't do it, but I have always vowed never to regret anything."
McLeish will be without eight senior players through illness or injury for the trip to Anfield, but has faith in the crop of academy products who are receiving their opportunity.
He said: "It is probably the youngest squad I've ever had to work with. At Rangers we dabbled in a lot of free transfers, guys at the end of the careers, to try to augment the squad.
"But we're going to go with the youngsters here. It can make or break players but a lot of them have got so much confidence.
"This is a learning curve for them in all aspects, life as well, in terms of the importance of the situation also.
"But a lot of them will be concentrating and focusing on enhancing their careers, getting into the first team and staying in the first team.
"They can emerge as men after this. I would definitely back a few of them to do that.
"They have to grow up as quickly as possible in one of the toughest leagues in the world."
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