ANGRY Dean Smith told his under-performing Aston Villa players they have played themselves out of next week's League Cup final after the 2-0 defeat at Saints.

Villa's relegation fears deepened after goals from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong condemned them to a third straight loss.

The visitors did not muster a single shot on target in a dismal display which will set more alarm bells ringing in the west midlands.

The relegation battle will be put to one side next weekend when Villa face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.

But on this evidence they could be in for a Wembley mauling, and Smith is now threatening to wield the axe.

The Villa boss said: "My feelings are embarrassment with the performance. The thing that hurts me the most is a lack of fight.

"I take full responsibility. It has to be the lowest of the low. The defeat at Watford was bad but this was on a par.

"They've let themselves down with their own personal performances. We got beaten and deservedly so.

"There were too many training-ground players. You've got to perform on a match day and too many players didn't.

"Our quality just wasn't there. Some of them have played their way out of a cup final."

Villa's Tyrone Mings, who spent eight years as a youngster at Saints, was brutally honest in his assessment of the away side's performance,

Mings started the game brightly, winning a succession of important headers, but was unable to keep Saints from scoring.

He said: "We’re in a relegation battle and the minimum requirement is to fight and battle and we didn’t do that.

“We can have no complaints because it wasn’t good enough.

“We didn’t start well, didn’t get into the game. We’re one point above the relegation zone and the next time we play we may well be in the relegation zone, so something needs to change.

“We’ll figure it out behind closed doors.

“The last thing we need to do now is fracture and lose faith in each other, so we’ll prepare for the League Cup Final and it might be a welcome distraction from the league.”