Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has hailed the impact of veteran defender John Terry over the course of the Championship season. The 37-year-old joined the Villains from Chelsea during the previous summer transfer window and he has since played a crucial role towards the club’s promotion hunt.

Speaking after the win over Middlesbrough, Bruce praised the qualities of Terry, who continues to deliver consistently despite approaching the latter years of his career. He said: “You’ve seen him out there, he [Terry] was brilliant, but it wasn’t just on the pitch that I needed him. It was to deal with the dressing room and it has been toxic, at Aston Villa, for years. It was important that people like Jack Grealish saw someone: this is how you do it. The way you look after yourself, this is what you prepare for. Glenn Whelan is the same. Elmohamady is the same. Jedinak is the same. All people who have been at the top level.”

Bruce was expecting a closely fought Championship semi-final playoff against Middlesbrough and the Villains experienced the same with just one goal separating the sides. Mile Jedinak scored off a header during the first leg at Middlesbrough to provide a 1-0 advantage and the Villains managed to hold onto the lead in the return fixture which ended goalless.

With the result, the west Midlands side are scheduled to play Fulham in the playoff final on May 26 and the match promises to be a thriller with both teams possessing game-changers. Fulham, in particular, have the advantage of the better form through the calendar year but games at Wembley are generally decided by which team shows up on the day. Meanwhile, Terry could stay with Villa next season, as per a clause, which activates on their probable promotion to the Premier League.