| 13°C Dublin

Warnock: Villa will end season on high

ASTON Villa defender Stephen Warnock believes recent events have brought the squad closer together and, with it, a determination to improve.

A tally of seven points out of a possible 27 means the club have dropped worryingly close to the relegation zone, with only six points separating them from 18th-placed Blackburn.

The shocking news about captain Stiliyan Petrov's leukaemia diagnosis appeared to have compounded their problems but Warnock thinks, in a way, it has helped galvanise a better spirit within the camp.

“There is a massive togetherness in the squad with everything that has gone on at the moment, it has brought the lads even closer,” he said. “There is a great atmosphere. It is great going in every day, there is great banter around the changing room and if we can keep that up and the team spirit on the pitch we will be fine.”

Warnock was pushed forward into a left-sided midfield role in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Liverpool as Alex McLeish sought to fill holes left by

illness and injury. The 30-year-old did not disappoint and his manager was impressed by how quickly he slotted into the position, which he has played a few times before at former club Blackburn. “Stephen Warnock moved position and I thought he was a revelation for us in midfield,” said McLeish. “I thought he showed a lot of composure and some great use of the ball and his break-up play was tremendous.” Warnock may keep his place for this evening's visit of Stoke, although the manager has more options with Andreas Weimann and Gary Gardner both coming off the bench at Anfield.