Barry happy with underdog status

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Gareth Barry is happy for Aston Villa to remain as underdogs and not be regarded as serious contenders for a Champions League spot.

The England midfielder has urged Martin O'Neill's side to maintain their current form and keep applying pressure on the so-called big four.

Barry said: "We are halfway now through the season and that is a great sign to be where we are. It puts a bit of pressure on teams below you if you do keep winning."

Villa's 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Boxing Day has given them the opportunity to end the year in the top four if they can get at least a point at Hull on Tuesday.

Barry knows a section of pundits and critics have still to be convinced about the credentials of the midlands club.

But the 27-year-old is hoping they will be forced to eat their words if Villa are still pushing to break into the elite in the latter stages of the season.

He added: "We have won back-to-back away games (against Everton and West Ham). The critics can keep saying we are not up there near the top of the table on merit. But, if we can stay there until April, then people will start changing their minds.

"We don't mind not being taken seriously. It takes the pressure off. We will probably keep talking that way ourselves - at least we will in public anyway.

"It is alright starting well and then dropping away but here we are, halfway through a season and that shows the massive effort put in so far.

"We have picked up our form over the last six games and have gone shooting up the table. Hopefully we can keep it going."

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Gareth Barry
Aston Villa
Hull City

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