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Steve Bruce: Aston Villa’s new manager questions his players’ fitness

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There’s a lot of work to be done – Bruce

Lack of fitness appears to be one of the biggest factors behind Aston Villa’s poor start to the campaign, according to new manager Steve Bruce.

Villa, who drew 1-1 against Wolves on Saturday in Bruce’s first game in charge, have taken the lead seven times in 12 Championship games this season – but have only gone on to win once.

“I wouldn’t like to say anything against another manager,” said Bruce.

“But it’s fair to say that some of them could be in better condition.”

Bruce, who took over on 12 October following the sacking of Roberto di Matteo, told BBC WM: “I can now understand why they’ve been conceding late – but that’s an easy one to sort.

“To play in the Championship, you have to have intensity. But we can work on that.

“There’s a lot to be done and we can only get better. This is a wonderful football club with wonderful support. They’re not used to seeing their team play at this level and there’s a lot of expectation – and it’s my job to try to put smiles on faces.”

Bruce said that, in retrospect, he might have left out Mile Jedinak after he was hampered by calf injuries to captain Tommy Elphick and fellow defender Micah Richards, ruling them out of Tuesday’s trip to Reading.

“Jedinak only got back from Australia on Friday morning,” said Bruce, after withdrawing the Australia midfielder early in the game. “Maybe I should have left him alone, but I wanted his experience. That was a mistake by me.”

Ref got Grealish incident ‘spot on’

An incident involving Villa’s Jack Grealish sparked a confrontation between both sets of players and bookings for his team-mate Ross McCormack and Wolves midfielder Conor Coady.

Speaking about the incident, visiting boss Walter Zenga said: “You see these things after. You cannot always be sure in the moment.

“He is a player I like so much but he did make a kick at Conor Coady.”

But Bruce said: “Maybe in Italy he might have got sent off. But I think the ref got it spot on to handle it the way he did.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37669066