(Reuters) - Aston Villa boss Dean Smith said there is plenty of fight left in his players as they battle for Premier League survival and backed the team to win their remaining two matches and boost their chances.
Villa appeared on course for a crucial victory at Everton on Thursday but were dealt a massive blow in their quest to remain in the top division when Theo Walcott headed in an 87th-minute equaliser to earn the hosts a 1-1 draw.
The result left Villa in 19th place, level on 31 points with Bournemouth above them on goal difference, with games against Arsenal and West Ham United still to come.
“I know we’re not out of it. I can see the fight in the players. Since lockdown I’ve been consistent in what I have been saying about the performances,” Smith told reporters.
“Our defensive organisation has been good and we’ve merited more wins than we have got... we could have had at least three or four wins. Unfortunately we’ve been a bit lacking in the final third.”
Villa have won only eight games despite spending close to 150 million pounds ($188.54 million) to overhaul their squad during the close season but Smith believes they can finish strongly.
“The players are a resilient bunch... we had a lot of change in the summer. We’ve got better,” Smith added.
“There are a lot of players who are playing well and that gives you hope to go and win the last two games.”
($1 = 0.7956 pounds)
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing