Andy Townsend, the last player to lift a trophy in Aston Villa colours, has endorsed his former club’s prospects of crowning a promising year with FA Cup glory.
The retired Republic of Ireland midfielder was captain when Villa previously secured silverware with a League Cup final triumph over Leeds United at Wembley in 1996.
So far this season Martin O’Neill’s team are fourth in the Premier League, through to the knockout stages of the Uefa Cup and in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Townsend, therefore, rates Villa’s chances of success in the current campaign higher than he has since his proudest moment in claret and blue 13 years ago.
“The question is can Villa go on and do it in the competition?” said Townsend, after witnessing Villa win 2-1 at Gillingham to set up an FA Cup fourth round tie at Cheltenham or Doncaster.
“Can they get some silverware in the cabinet again? It’s been a long time, but I’d love to see it.
“The FA Cup is a priority and it’s something that I think is achievable for them and I’d love to see them continue the way they’re going.
“I’d like to see some top players coming in and I think it could be their year.”
Townsend, who played 135 games for Villa between 1993 and 1997, has also given his seal of approval to his former club’s prospects of maintaining their present Premier League position to disrupt the established top four by the end of the season.
The 45-year-old television pundit holds the belief that Villa are “going places” and suggests the combination of ambitious players, an intelligent manager and an unassuming chairman could be a recipe for success this season.
“I think they’re the one side out of the pack now that are ready to have a real go at the top four in the Premier League,” said Townsend.
“I think one reason for that is their bright young players. They’ve got good players at a good age who look like they have the hunger and desire to achieve.
“They’ve got a manager who’s a smart, clever man who’s got a good relationship with a chairman who likes to remain in the background. There’s so many things that are right about Villa.
“It will be interesting to see what they do in the transfer window, but clearly Villa are going places and I’m thrilled for them.”
Townsend accepts that Villa’s hopes of continued success might hinge on the acquisition of reinforcements during the January transfer window, particularly strikers to give O’Neill more attacking options.
Teenager Nathan Delfouneso was called upon to partner winger James Milner up front at Gillingham on Sunday with top scorer Gabriel Agbonlahor ill, John Carew injured and Marlon Harewood figuring only among the substitutes.
“The area that Martin O’Neill has to address in the transfer window if Villa want to be one of the big players with the big boys is to bring in a little bit more up top,” added Townsend.
“That’s the area that they do really need to have a go at.”