Blackburn U21 v Villa U21: Cowans sets challenge to young guns
Gordon Cowans insists victory over Blackburn tonight would give his Villa side a fighting chance of reaching the Barclays U21 Premier League knockout stages.
Villa could go top of Qualification Group 1 depending on their own result and the outcome of Everton's clash against Fulham.
Only the first-place team from Group 1 will qualify for the end-of-season finals but Cowans reckons it is still achievable for his young guns.
However, he believes there is plenty to improve on from Thursday's 2-1 win at Chelsea.
"We got the win and we are in a little bit of a better position in the league," said Cowans.
"Hopefully we can get a few more wins and make the knockout stages.
"You take the win although I was disappointed with the performance.
"It was difficult with a lot of lads out having played two games over in Italy with the NextGen squad.
"We only had a game a few days earlier too and there were some tired legs out there but I think we need to be better than that.
"The Chelsea lads were fair bit younger than us. But we got the result we needed in the end.
"We probably could have had a few more but at one stage in fairness Benji Siegrist kept us in it as well.
"He made a good save one-on-one to keep the score even."
Villa will once again be looking to skipper Daniel Johnson for inspiration.
The midfielder has scored four times in his last three U21 outings.
"Daniel Johnson has been excellent of late and he has got to keep that going," added Cowans.
"The kid is a talent and he has got to make sure he keeps on performing week in, week out and pushing onwards and upwards."
Follow our live audio and text commentary from tonight's clash, which kicks off at 7pm.