Tony Pulis praises 'big club' Aston Villa - and pinpoints their key strength

Tony Pulis has praised Aston Villa
Tony Pulis has praised Aston Villa

Tony Pulis has heaped praise on Aston Villa and manager Dean Smith - but knows where their key strengths lie.

Pulis and Middlesbrough welcome Villa to the Riverside Stadium tomorrow in a televised clash, with both teams looking to continue their promotion pushes.

And the Boro boss believes his side will need to be wary of the Midlanders' front line when they make the journey to the North East.

Villa played-out an entertaining 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest in midweek and, while Pulis isn't expecting a repeat scoreline this weekend, he believes the result only serves to emphasise the attacking power at Villa's disposal.

That, he feels, is their key strength and one which will mean that Smith's side will be pushing for promotion come May.

Those games don't come round very often and they're a good side Villa, especially when you see what they've got up front," he said.

"I expect them to be there or thereabouts at the end."

Pulis was also complimentary of his adversary Smith, who took the reigns at Villa Park earlier this season after succeeding at both Walsall and Brentford.

The Middlesbrough chief is now backing the 47-year-old to succeed.

"I was delighted to see Dean (Smith) get the job having down well in the lower leagues with Walsall and Brentford," he added.

"It's a great reward for him and I'm sure he'll do well there."