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The Moroccan, who has just returned from the Africa Cup of Nations where his country were knocked out in the group stage, believes the Villans can ease their relegation fears

Aston Villa midfielder Karim El Ahmadi has expressed his belief that the Villans can move up the Premier League table away from the relegation zone.

The Moroccan missed the entirety of his side's January fixture list due to featuring at the Africa Cup of Nations, but is keen to make an instant impact upon returning.

"It was hard to be away last month because Villa had some very big games coming up and I wanted to play in them," he told the club’s official website.

"If your country calls you, though, you cannot say no. I was fit and I was ready to play for Morocco.

"But I watched the highlights of every Villa game while I was there. It was really disappointing that we didn't get to Wembley in the Capital One Cup because being involved in the final would have been a great prize for me in my first season here.

"But now we have to focus on the league. I believe we can climb the table because we have so many good players. The way we created the goals at Everton showed what we are capable of.

"Now we have to win more games."

The 28-year-old previously plied his trade in the Netherlands along with team-mates Brett Holman and Ron Vlaar, and he says their presence has helped him get used to playing in England.

"I played alongside Ron for Holland U18s so we have known each other a long time," he added.

"We also played against each other quite a lot, then I signed for Feyenoord and we played together there for three-and-a-half years. We have a good relationship so it was good that he came here.

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"I played a lot against Brett, too. He's also an excellent player and the fact that he hasn't been in the starting line-up in the last few games shows what a good squad we have.

"The younger players are very professional and they work hard. The future of Villa is going to be good with players like that.

"I can give them some advice because I've played a lot of games throughout my career, even though the game is different here from football in Holland.

"The speed of Premier League football is much higher and it's much more physical, but I'm getting used to that."

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