Martin O'Neill has warned the big four clubs that Aston Villa's challenge for a Champions League spot will not fizzle out in the final third of the season.
Villa return on Tuesday from a five-day break in Dubai hoping their batteries are recharged for the last 10 games of the campaig and O'Neill is adamant Villa are capable of sustaining their push.
"The players are really enjoying the situation they are in. It is great and there is a tremendous excitement among the players about the run-in," he said. "I think that's probably because we haven't been in this position before. That's the great thing."
They currently hold a three-point advantage over fourth placed Arsenal even though they have taken only one point from the last three matches.
He added: "The big four sides - Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool - have been there on merit now for some considerable time. They generally know what it's all about.
"This season, we're making it frighteningly difficult for them. They have budgeted for Champions League football - we haven't.
"The top four have had things to themselves over the past few years but this time we have rattled a few cages and that has been the exciting part of this season."
O'Neill added: "I'm excited by the prospect of finishing in the top four. The players have stuck with it and their performances on the whole have been terrific.
"Can we stay with it? There is no reason why we shouldn't be in the mix at the end of the season.
"There should be no reason at all. We should be there. We have kept it going now for the past six months and we now only have three months to go now."
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