Villa players not fit enough – Bruce

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There’s a lot of work to be done – Bruce

New Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce says that lack of fitness appears to be one of the biggest factors behind their poor start to the campaign.

Villa, who drew Bruce’s first game in charge 1-1 against Wolves on Saturday, have taken the lead seven times in 12 Championship games this season – but have only once gone on to win.

“I wouldn’t like to say anything against another manager,” said Bruce.

“But it’s fair to say that some of them could be in better condition.”

Bruce, who took over on Wednesday following the sacking of Roberto di Matteo, told BBC WM: “I can now understand why they’ve been conceding late – but that’s an easy one to sort.

“To play in the Championship, you have to have intensity. But we can work on that.

“There’s a lot to be done and we can only get better. This is a wonderful football club with wonderful support. They’re not used to seeing their team play at this level and there’s a lot of expectation – and it’s my job to try to put smiles on faces.”

Further hampered by calf injuries to captain Tommy Elphick and fellow defender Micah Richards, ruling them out of Tuesday’s trip to Reading, Bruce said that, in retrospect, he might also have left out Mile Jedinak.

“Jedinak only got back from Australia on Friday morning,” said Bruce, after withdrawing the Australia midfielder early in the game. “Maybe I should have left him alone, but I wanted his experience. That was a mistake by me.”

Grealish incident just ‘handbags’

On an incident involving Villa’s Jack Grealish, which sparked a mass confrontation between both sets of players, and bookings for team-mate Ross McCormack and Wolves man Conor Coady, visiting boss Walter Zenga said: “You see these things after. You cannot always be sure in the moment.

“He is a player I like so much but he did make a kick at Conor Coady.”

But Bruce laughed it off simply as “handbags”.

“Maybe in Italy he might have got sent off,” he said. “But I think the ref got it spot on to handled it the way he did.”

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