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Conor Hourihane claims Fulham fanfare has already fired-up Aston Villa ahead of Championship play-off final

By Matt Maher | Aston Villa | Published:

Conor Hourihane claims Fulham’s wild dressing room celebrations have already helped fire-up Villa ahead of the Championship play-off final.

The two teams do battle at Wembley on May 26 for a place in the Premier League, with Hourihane admitting Villa will head into the game as underdogs.

But the midfielder revealed Steve Bruce’s men have been given added incentive after witnessing the aftermath of their opponents’ semi-final win over Derby on Monday night.

Players were carried off the pitch by home supporters at Craven Cottage and celebrated while taking selfies in the dressing room.

Hourihane said: “That’s been mentioned, don’t you worry. They celebrated like they won the league or something like that.

“We had calm celebrations, everyone was just in the dressing room high-fiving each other. There was nothing major going on in the dressing room at all because there’s more business to be done.”

Villa’s 1-0 aggregate semi-final win over Middlesbrough on Tuesday was followed by a pitch invasion of several thousand fans.

But Hourihane said: “The fans are obviously going to enjoy it, they’re looking forward to a good Wembley day out, no doubt.

“But like I say, we’ve got our business heads on that’s for sure.”

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“Are we underdogs? Maybe so, Fulham are a good side, they finished ahead of us in the league, deservedly so. The league table doesn’t lie.

“They might be slight favourites going into it, but all the best to them if they fancy themselves more than us because we’ll be ready for it, that’s for sure.”

He added: “We haven’t achieved nothing yet, we’re in a play-off final and the experienced heads in the dressing room have been saying that. We’ve got hard work to do for the next ten days or so.”

Hourihane paid tribute to supporters for the raucous atmosphere created at Villa Park for the semi-final second leg with Middlesbrough.

Leading 1-0 from the first-leg, a tense 0-0 draw was enough to see Bruce’s men through.

“You have to leave everything out on the field,” said Hourihane. “I thought the fans there on Tuesday were fantastic, it was louder than the derby game against Birmingham. They were terrific, they got us through, they stuck with us. They were the 12th man and played their part.”

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
Football MMPJ - @mjmarr_star

Sports journalist for the Express & Star

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