ALBION have been warned the Premier League will be even tougher next season.

Their former defender Tommy Elphick has tipped this year’s promoted trio to fare better than last season’s trio of Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham.

Elphick reckons the Villa outfit he has just left could emulate Wolves’ top-half finish if they get their recruitment right.

He also believes champions Norwich and runners-up Sheffield United will survive, though again summer business will be key.

Albion are working on a summer of “evolution not revolution” under new boss Graham Potter and will be keen to improve on last term’s 17th-place finish.

Elphick, from Woodingdean, is set to sign for another Championship club as a free agent after a summer break.

But the former Bournemouth skipper will watch events in the top tier with interest.

He told The Argus: “Knowing the manager and the hierarchy at Villa now, they could be a force to be reckoned with for many years.

“The recruitment will have to be right. They didn’t take the option up on six or seven of us coming to the end of our contracts so they might have to bring in ten or 11 new lads.

“They need to get the right guys in but there is no reason why they can’t aim for the top half.

“The owners are two very serious guys. It’s chalk and cheese to the previous owners.

“They run a very successful NBA team and they own half of Adidas.

“I’ve seen some of the plans they have going forward.

“They have a good core of talent, players like Connor Hourihane, John McGinn and Jack Grealish.

“They will stick with the three goalkeepers they have and they will want try to make Tyrone Mings (on loan from Bournemouth) permanent.

“They will try to get Axel Tuanzebe (on loan from Manchester United) back for another year or on a permanent basis.

“Dean Smith (Villa boss) is very similar to Eddie Howe at Bournemouth.

“He won’t got to Manchester City or Liverpool and just try to shut up shop.

“He is very meticulous in his preparation.”

Elphick made 29 Championship starts last season including 18 on loan to Hull City, although he is not likely to return to the Tigers on a permanent deal.

He said: “I’ve played against both the top two.

“The big thing about Sheffield United is their team spirit.

“They seem to cope with anything and everything they come up against.

“Again, recruitment will be important.

“They won’t be a team who really splash the cash. They will try to be savvy.

“The squad they have needs improving but they have got the momentum of two promotions in recent seasons.

“I know how that feels from when I was at Bournemouth.

“You just need to get two or three results early on and you really start to believe.

“Norwich have some fantastic young players. They will keep them together and add two or three lads to provide more experience.

“They will need that sort of influence to keep them going when it gets tough and they are not getting results.

“If you look at the three last year, Cardiff were always going to face an uphill struggle.

“Wolves were special but I can see Villa replicating what Wolves did.

“Fulham got it totally wrong with how much they tried to overhaul the squad.

“These three will be stronger.”