Gareth Barry believes Aston Villa are in the "perfect position" to maintain their push for a Champions League spot during the second half of the season.
Villa have entered the new year lying in fourth spot in the Barclays Premier League following an eight-game league run, and Barry is confident Martin O'Neill's men have the ability to stay on course for Champions League football.
Barry said: "It has been a fantastic season so far and it is all set up nicely now. We are in the perfect position to only look above us really and not worry about who is below us."
He added: "We will see if we can match what we have done in the first half of the season. We have to keep working hard, hope the players can keep their form and also stay away from injuries."
Barry was part of the Villa side which topped the Premier League a decade ago under John Gregory before they faded during the second part of the season and finally finished sixth.
But, this time, the England midfielder is more confident of sustaining a challenge right through until May.
The 27-year-old said: "There are similarities with 10 years ago but that season we got off to an unbelievable start, not losing for a long time, whereas this time we've built very slowly.
"I think that's probably going to help us a bit more and, this season, I think we're more capable of holding on.
"Steel is what you need. All the top teams have it. The Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas don't always play well and yet seem to come away with single-goal wins and score late goals. You definitely need that knack of winning games if you're going to challenge for things."
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