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The captain feels the squad will have grown together and learnt lessons from last term, before describing his excitement at Paul Lambert's summer signings

Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar is confident the club will head into the new campaign even stronger after struggling against relegation for much of last season.

The 28-year-old has been a regular for Villa since joining from Feyenoord, featured in 31 matches across all competitions for the club in his debut season. 

Despite looking set for relegation from the Premier League at times in 2012-13, Paul Lambert's side battled back to pick up 17 points from their last ten games to secure survival.

"I look back with pleasure to the last months. The results improved a lot," he told the club's official website. 

"The team improved and the way we played together got better. You could see that with the results. We want that to continue next season.

"We are excited. We are looking forward. The fans got some great moments in the last few months and they want to see more of that. We want to give them more of that.

"We have optimism and positivity. We have to believe in ourselves. We did a lot more of that at the end of last season. We have to do that again in this season. We have to see what's possible."

Vlaar also insisted that the club's new signings - which include Jores Okore, Aleksandar Tonev and Nicklas Helenius - are fitting in well.

"There's a really healthy atmosphere in the group. We have some new lads. We are getting to know each other. It's really good," he added. 

Villa began their pre-season preparations with a camp in Germany, which saw three 1-1 draws in their friendly fixtures, and they will face Wycombe Wanderers on July 20 next. 

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