Leeds United 1 Aston Villa 1: This clash would grace any league - Bruce

Liam Cooper heads in, but is ruled offside.' PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Liam Cooper heads in, but is ruled offside.' PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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Villa boss Steve Bruce said he felt the hard-fought game underlined just how tough the Championship is.

“Leeds United against Aston Villa would grace any league,” he said.

“People think the Championship is a doddle, especially if you’ve been in the Premier League. But there’s two teams that have come down this year that are in the bottom five.

“I’m under no illusions how difficult it is even for a club like Leeds or Villa. But both teams are very decent and in a good position to threaten the top end of the division.”

And Bruce now hopes Henri Lansbury can prove his Championship quality after the midfielder earned Villa a point on his return from injury.

Lansbury joined Villa from Nottingham Forest in January but had struggled to make an impact before a troublesome knee problem sidelined him in mid-September.

The 27-year-old was introduced midway through the second half at Elland Road and made up for lost time by cancelling out Pontus Jansson’s early opener with a well-struck equaliser from 20 yards.

“I’m delighted because he’s had an awful knee and worked hard over the last two, three weeks,” said Villa boss Bruce.

“It hasn’t gone as well for him at the club as everybody expected and then he picks up this awful knee injury which has kept him out for weeks. But the last couple of weeks in particular he has looked more like H again.

“We all know he’s a good player at this level and hopefully he’s found his feet and that’ll give him a little bit of confidence. He looked a very good player when he came on.”

Villa went into Friday’s clash in fourth place after three straight wins and - although that run was ended by Leeds - Bruce saw positive signs from his side.

“We know it’s never going to be easy coming here and their tails are up a bit in front of 30-odd thousand,” he added.

“The two lads who came on gave us a spark. I thought (Jack) Grealish and Lansbury gave us that little bit of impetus and that’s important.

“We’ve missed them. They’ve both had big injuries and it’s good to see them back.

“When it’s a bit like that, especially in December, it’s good to rely on people who can turn a game around.

“The most important thing for me was the response. Twelve months ago we weren’t getting a response. We were just, ‘ah well we’re behind again, ok we’ll just roll over and get beat’. I think we’re improving.”

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