VILLA BOARD HAVE FAITH IN McLEISH

Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner back Alex McLeish.

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Alex McLeish: Still has backing of Lerne

Alex McLeish: Still has backing of Lerne

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner have given their backing to manager Alex McLeish and his players as the club strive to win their Barclays Premier League relegation battle.

Lerner and Faulkner have issued their rallying call after Villa were left only three points above the bottom three following Tuesday night's home defeat by Bolton.

Fans called for McLeish to be sacked and Lerner and Faulkner understand the frustrations of the supporters and are calling for their backing for the final three games of the season.

Lerner and Faulkner, in a joint statement, said: "Right now everyone connected with Villa is hurting badly.

"A win was in sight last night against Bolton after a strong start and the tenacity the team displayed, although ultimately we weren't able to hold on for the points.

"We very openly acknowledge the frustrations of Villa fans and share in them completely.

"What matters to us and the board at this moment is how we, as a club, handle adversity and the pressure it brings.

"Our horizon is the next three games and we continue to be in control of our own destiny."

The statement continued: "Young players side by side with more senior players are fighting hard for the club.

"They are now preparing for the West Brom game on Saturday, followed by Spurs and Norwich.

"We will continue to support and rely on our manager and the squad and therefore give them our full support.

"We are totally conscious, as is everyone at the club, that this is a very trying time for those who love Aston Villa.

"We know that the team will continue to fight through every minute of the remaining games and we hope Villa fans will continue to show their great support."

Stephen Warnock, who scored Villa's goal in the 2-1 defeat, accepts players must stand up and be counted during the final three games of the season.

Midfielder Warnock acknowledges Villa lack players who are used to being involved in scraps to survive at the foot of the table.

He said: "There's only myself at Blackburn, James Collins at West Ham and Emile Heskey at Wigan who have been in this situation.

"It's not a nice situation to be in. We need fighters now.

"The youngsters are learning the hard way but it's not easy for the senior lads as well.

"With Blackburn a couple of years ago, we had to really fight for it.

"It's a real test of character and we have to stand up and be counted now."

Villa face West Brom on Saturday and Warnock added: "We've got to take the positives out of the Bolton game, learn from the mistakes and hope that will be enough to get us the win on Saturday.

"We need to go to West Brom with the belief that we can win the game."

Two goals in as many minutes from Martin Petrov and David Ngog earned Bolton the win and were followed by fans calling for McLeish to leave.

The Villa boss refuses to blame an over-reliance on young players because of a lengthy injury list - there were 11 academy products among the 18 players on duty against Bolton - for Villa's plight.

He said: "When you are a young player just learning the game in the top division, you have to learn by making mistakes sometimes.

"But some experienced players have made mistakes this season as well and I can't say it is because the kids are in the team because some have done so well the last few weeks.

"It is pretty close to the worst injury situation I've known.

"I said at the start of the season we need to be lucky in terms of the senior players not getting injured due to the lack of depth of experience.

"We have missed a lot of experienced players but I'm confident we will be okay."

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