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Collins insists Villa are united

Aston Villa picked up a vital victory over Newcastle United at the weekend to put daylight between themselves and the relegation zone, but defender James Collins knows their performance this season has not been good enough.

Villa now sit in 14th place, five points above West Ham United in the final relegation place. The two teams meet at Upton Park this weekend in a crucial six-pointer.

And Collins also rejected claims that there is disharmony in the Villa changing room, contrary to media reports.

Collins said: "The sprit has never been in question. I can say that this is the best changing room I've ever been in. The lads are great together, everyone gets on, and we are all fighting for the same thing.

"No one wants to be in a team that has been relegated. We showed great spirit out there against Newcastle.

"For a club of Villa's size it would be disastrous for everyone to go down. For any team in the Premier League, relegation is a disaster but Villa is a massive club. To be in the position we are in, is not acceptable. We know everyone hasn't performed and we need to step it up to the way we performed last season.

"We set out before the Everton game last weekend on an eight game season and we've got four points from the first two of those matches which is massive. It was a big win on Sunday but we don't want to get carried away and hopefully we can take confidence from that and get three points at West Ham.''

Collins and defensive partner Richard Dunne were disciplined for their drunken behaviour towards members of the coaching staff during a recent team bonding trip, but Collins says that is now history.

He said: "What's gone on in the past couple of weeks is done and dusted with now. We are professional footballers. We'll always try our heart out and perform and be as professional as we can. We weren't outstanding defensively at Everton but managed to get a good point.

"But in the second half against Newcastle, we showed some of what we did last season. I am concentrating on performing on the pitch. It is what I get paid to do and that is what I'm trying to do, trying to get back to the form I showed last year - and repay Villa for signing me and spending a lot of money on me.''

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