Derby full-back Stephen Warnock has conceded that if the Rams get promoted to the Premier League this season, he would be disappointed if it was the place of his former side Aston Villa that they would be taking in the top flight, despite the way he felt he was treated by the Villains, the Birmingham Mail reports.
The veteran played for Villa between 2009 and 2013, and while he made 41 appearances in all competitions during his first season with the club, his opportunities became limited under Gerard Houllier, and he found himself still on the periphery under Paul Lambert.
And while he admitted that he was disappointed with the way his exile from the first-team was handled by Lambert, he insisted that he hopes that under Remi Garde, they will be able to pull themselves out of the position they currently find themselves in.
"There were a few players who were deemed surplus to requirements and, sooner or later, they were moved on. If you look at it now, Alan Hutton was in that group, but he managed to fight his way back," he said, as reported by the Mail.
"If it was because some of us were on too much money, it would have been nice to be told that. But it was never mentioned to me and in the end I jumped ship to Leeds to rebuild my career.
"Villa and Derby could possibly trade places at the end of this season, but it would be incredibly sad if Villa ended up in the Championship because it's a massive club.”
Since Martin O'Neill left Villa Park in 2010, it is fair to say that the club have been in decline, and it appears that their six years of struggle will ultimately result in their relegation this season.
Despite not losing in their last three league games, they find themselves 10 points off safety, and probably need to put together the kind of run that long-suffering Villa fans have not been treated to since O'Neill was at the club.