Ciaran Clark: Sherwood can revive us
Ciaran Clark believes boss Tim Sherwood can get Villa back to regularly fighting in the top half of the Premier League.
Since breaking into the first team five years ago, the 25-year-old defender has mainly experienced life near the foot of the table as the claret and blues have faced a series of relegation battles.
But after Sherwood's arrival in February saw them beat the drop again, while playing an improved brand of football, Clark thinks there is now renewed optimism.
"I think if you look at the way we ended the season, if we can take that form and confidence into the start of next season and continue it throughout then you just don't know," he said.
"Aston Villa is a massive club and should be up there. We want to be back up there again."
Clark's first priority in pre-season will be to reclaim his starting place after missing the final seven weeks of last term with a knee injury.
Until then, he had been among the team's most-consistent performers, a fact highlighted by him finishing third in Villa's Player of the Year voting behind Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke.
Clark will face competition from new signing Micah Richards but feels he did enough to impress Sherwood before being hit by injury.
"Hopefully, if I can get myself fit for the start of next season, next season will be just as good for me," he added.
Richards is expected to complete his move to Villa early this week for a deal reportedly worth £65,000-per-week, making him one of the club's top earners.
It is not yet clear whether Ron Vlaar will be a part of the backline next season as the Dutch international mulls the offer of a new contract.
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