Scott Carson has called on Aston Villa to become the surprise team of the season and ensure their superb win over Chelsea was not a one-off result.
The on-loan Liverpool ’keeper wants Villa to emulate the example of Blackburn, who have qualified for this season’s UEFA Cup competition via the Intertoto Cup after a consistent campaign in the Premier League.
Carson, back from his spell as England number three for the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia, insists Martin O’Neill’s side should not settle for a mid-table slot.
But he knows the importance of building on the euphoria that surrounded the performance against Chelsea
Carson insisted: "We’ve got to look to Europe. We’ve been solid at the back so far and have kept a couple of clean sheets which is pleasing. Then you can see the quality of the young players we’ve got upfront and the kind of pace they possess.
"I think we took another step in the right direction against Chelsea but you’ve got to carry it on. We’ve got to continue things on against the teams around us in the table.
"I think the lads have got to look at Europe. There is no point in settling for 10th, 11th or whatever. We’ve got to look to the next step like Blackburn did last season. There is often a surprise team that emerges and hopefully we can be that team. There have been some encouraging signs."
Villa denied Chelsea a single clear-cut chance and Carson gives much credit to central defender Martin Laursen who has battle back from a three-year knee injury nightmare.
The Danish international has been largely responsible for Villa having been beaten only once in their last 13 league encounters in a sequence stretching back to April when he came back into the side.
Carson said: "Martin has shown a lot of character. The manager has also said that. Hopefully he will stay fit. When you are injured for three years like he has been, it can make or break a player.
"I don’t know all the ins and outs of his injury problems but, since I’ve been here, Martin has been different class and earned us a few points already."