Heskey: Benty and Stan have been a real miss in survival fight
Emile Heskey insists it was no easy task crossing the survival finishing line without aces Darren Bent and Stiliyan Petrov.
Villa all but guaranteed Barclays Premier League safety courtesy of the weekend draw at Tottenham.
And Heskey was happy to contribute as Alex McLeish's men secured another top-flight campaign in 2012-13, barring a mathematical miracle.
The powerful former England forward praised the squad for battling in the face of adversity, which came in the form of a glut of injuries including those to striker Bent and skipper Petrov.
Heskey now says it's a real relief to go into the final game of the season with a "massive weight off our shoulders."
He said: "We left it late but the lads battled through.
"It's been very difficult for us. We have had a lot of injuries, but we've got on with it, battled through and that is what you get from us.
"It has been difficult, missing Benty as well, that's been one big thing for us. But all of us have been getting niggly injuries too.
"We've also missed our captain Stan. Just having him on the pitch at times is a massive boost to the lads. We've missed him but he's got his own battle to fight.
"But we did it for him and did it for the club.
"You've just got to rally. The lads are capable of winning games. Sometimes when you get into a bit of a rut, your head gets down and you can't find yourselves getting out of it.
"But we've all stuck together and rallied and tried to push ourselves forward.
"It is a massive weight off our shoulders now. It is nice to go into the game relaxed."
Heskey revealed he will be looking for another club ahead of the next campaign but reminisced about a fine time in claret and blue.
He added: "It's been good. I have enjoyed it.
"We got to the Carling Cup final, an FA Cup semi-final, so it was all good.
"It gave me the chance to play at Wembley again so I can't complain."
Click here to watch the AVTV post-match interviews after Tottenham draw.
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