Gareth Barry is expecting a great atmosphere and a tough game when he returns to Villa Park tonight for City’s Premier League clash with his former club.
Both teams are chasing three points, with the Blues aiming to cut Manchester United’s lead at the top, and Villa desperate to avoid relegation.
“It’s going to be a huge game. Matches are running out in terms of the league for Aston Villa, but they’ve shown that they can produce great performances against anybody and we’re going to have to be top of our game to get the three points,” said Barry.
“We are at opposite ends of the table, so I think there will be a great atmosphere on Monday night – an evening game can create a special atmosphere too.”
The England midfielder left Villa for City in 2009, so has plenty of experience lining up against the team he represented from the age of 16.
“I was at Villa for 12 years and played a lot of games at Villa Park, so going back there is always a special occasion and this is a big game for both clubs," he said.
“I’ve got used to going back there now. I remember the first time it was quite tough. To spend a long time there and then to find yourself playing against a team you spent so long playing with was difficult.
“But it is something you get used to and it has been a few years now, so you get used to that.”
Although injury has prevented him from playing for the Blues since the defeat at Southampton, the 32-year-old is now hoping to make a swift return to Roberto Mancini’s squad.
He admitted: “Two weeks out hasn’t been ideal at this stage of the season. I just had a couple of niggles after the Southampton game, but I’ve trained the last two days with the team (Thursday and Friday), so I’m feeling good now and hopefully I will be back in the squad for the game at Villa.”
As the Premier League campaign enters its final three months, Barry declared he is taking each game as it comes: “It’s a huge gap between ourselves and Manchester United at this stage of the season, but we’ve spoken among ourselves and with the manager and we have to just try to win every game to see where that gets us.
“We just have to take one game at a time and that will start with Aston Villa – three points there and we can move on again.”