Aston Villa’s 3-1 victory at Hull City on Monday was a welcome relief for a set of fans who have endured a particularly difficult summer.
Last season’s expensive gamble to try and secure promotion to the Premier League ultimately failed, but with new investment secured the club can look forward to the future with renewed optimism.
With the possibility of new signings boosting a strong-looking squad, Villa could mount another promotion bid this term. Read on as we look at the players who could be the key to their success.
Grealish has been linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur for much of this summer, but the club’s new owners have backed out of a deal to sell him.
The midfielder is believed to be frustrated by their stance, having been assured that he would be allowed to leave if a suitable bid was received.
If Villa can keep Grealish and if his head hasn’t been turned by Spurs’ interest, he could be the key to Villa’s promotion hopes this season.
Bruce’s side are priced at 9/1 with most of the best bookmakers for football betting to win the title – those odds could tumble if Grealish stays at Villa Park.
Kodjia’s impact at Villa Park has been hampered by injuries, but if he stays fit he could have a major influence on the club’s fortunes this season.
The 28-year-old scored just once in the league last term, compared with 19 goals during the previous campaign.
If he can rediscover his best form, defences across the Championship could be in for a tough time.
Bryan is one of the best attacking full-backs in the Championship and he seems sure to make his mark higher up the scale in the future.
His impending arrival at Villa Park for £5 million significantly strengthens Bruce’s squad and sends out a message that the club means business.
Bryan made 48 appearances in all competitions last season and played a key part in Bristol City’s season-opening 1-1 draw at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Adomah started last season on the bench, before breaking into the first team and producing an impressive run of performances.
His form tailed off towards the back end of the campaign, but he was in the starting XI at Hull and played well alongside Kodjia.
The 30-year-old would probably benefit from a switch to the wing and if Bruce does move Adomah out wide expect him to produce some fireworks.