STEVE Clarke is hoping Villa can beat the drop as he believes their Barclays Premier League presence helps spur his men on.
The eighth-placed Baggies’ 3-0 win at Southampton on Saturday guaranteed they will finish above their top-flight derby rivals for the second successive season.
Paul Lambert’s men meanwhile moved five points clear of the relegation zone thanks to Monday’s 6-1 victory over Sunderland and if Albion take points off struggling Wigan on Saturday (ko 3pm) it will give Villa’s survival chances a major boost.
“I would like to see the Midlands stronger,” said Clarke.
“It’s important that you have good competition from the clubs around you.
“If you have that competition it’s healthy around the area; it’s better for the Midlands that they have more successful teams.
"I would miss Villa. It’s important that they finish the season strongly.
“It’s important to have your rivals breathing down your neck.
“You see how much it means to the supporters – they want to be the top dogs.
“But you want to be the top dogs because you've beaten your nearest rivals or you’ve finished higher than them in the same league - that’s important.”