Villa’s last game of the league ended in a 1-0 defeat to Millwall, but it mattered not as they knew that they were already assured of a 4th place finish and a coveted play-off place – which will be the first Championship play-off that the club has ever been involved in.
In fact, since this game was the proverbial dead rubber, Bruce took the opportunity to give the majority of his first team players an all important rest ahead of the biggest games of some of their careers.
Bruce knew that his side would most likely be facing Derby or Middlesborough in the play-offs, and it looked like it was going to be the former before Middlesbrough scored a late equalizer against Ipswich.
Villa will travel to The Riverside on Saturday for the first-leg with the aim of making the second-leg on Tuesday at Villa Park as comfortable as possible.
Here’s our predicted Villa XI for Saturday’s play-off first-leg against Middlesbrough.