Micah Richards admits being pained every time he sees Aston Villa's name

The Villa team captain insists it is still painful for the players to see an 'R' next to the club's name in the Premier League table.

Aston Villa captain Micah Richards has insisted that it is still painful for the players to see the letter 'R' next to the club's name in the Premier League table and said they are now focused on trying to restore any semblance of pride for the fans, as quoted by the Birmingham Mail.

Villa were relegated with four games to go with a 1-0 defeat against Manchester United earlier this month and on Saturday they lost 4-2 at home to Southampton as a miserable campaign which has seen them win just three of 35 league matches finally begins to draw to a close.

A running theme of this season at Villa Park has been disgruntled supporters accusing senior players at the club of showing a lack of fight or even any appreciation of the severity of the situation they are in.

However, Richards, who as team captain has come in for some of the harshest criticism from fans, has insisted that the players are still reeling from the confirmation of their relegation.

He said, as quoted by the Birmingham Mail: "The players have taken a lot of criticism this season and that is fully understandable given our league position. But I can assure you we all felt the pain of relegation when our fate was sealed.

"The feeling in the dressing room at Old Trafford was one of devastation and it is something most of the lads have never had to go through before. It had been on the cards for weeks but it does not make it any less hurtful when you see the letter ‘R’ next to your name on the league table.

"The reality of our situation really hit home and we are gutted for our supporters who have followed us home and away in great numbers this season through difficult times. It may be too late to do anything about our top flight status but all we can do now is try to restore some pride for the club, for ourselves and for the fans."

Richards is one of a number of players whose future at the club is likely to be under review this summer, as he and several other of the higher earners at Villa Park may well be shipped out as a cost-cutting measure.

Villa have three games left of their nearly 30-year-long spell in the top flight and travel to Watford next Saturday in their penultimate away fixture.

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