Sam Johnstone: Aston Villa under pressure this season
Sam Johnstone admits the heat is on Villa to escape the Championship this season.
The goalkeeper acknowledges the failure to win promotion last term has seen the pressure cranked up a further notch, ahead of another campaign when they will again be expected to challenge near the top.
Villa finished just 13th in their first season outside the top flight for almost three decades, despite a significant spend on new players.
Johnstone last week became the club’s second signing this summer when he completed a season-long loan switch from Manchester United.
And he said: “This is a massive club so the expectation is big. We put the pressure on ourselves to do it as well as for the staff and the fans. We want to get promoted. The club doesn’t belong in the Championship.
“Not going up last year puts a little more pressure on us to do it. That is the objective on everyone’s minds. We need to be back where Villa belong.”
Johnstone made his return to action in Saturday’s 2-1 friendly defeat at League One Shrewsbury Town. The game also saw a debut for John Terry, with Villa confirming the 36-year-old will be captain this season, replacing James Chester. Terry skippered Chelsea to five Premier League titles and also led England during the 2010 World Cup.
Johnstone said: “He is a leader and a captain. His experience will help everyone.
“Having him around the place is huge. It shows how big this club is to sign someone like that.
“His experience and what he has been through, playing in top, top games can only help that.
“My mind was already made up to come back here but things like that (signing Terry) are a bonus.”
Sunderland are meanwhile reported to have made an enquiry for Ross McCormack.
The striker has been brought back into the fold at Villa after a public falling out with boss Steve Bruce last term and started Saturday’s game at Shrewsbury.
McCormack scored only three goals after joining Villa from Fulham in a £12million move 12 months ago.
And the price tag, together with the 30-year-old’s £40,000-a-week wages, is expected to prove a stumbling block for the Black Cats.