Friday, December 29, 2006

Injury hit Villa head for The Valley

Aston Villa are facing an injury crisis and may be without as many as 10 first-team players for Saturday's match with Charlton. Martin O'Neill has been operating with a threadbare squad since he took over in August and his resources look like being stretched further after Olof Mellberg, Aaron Hughes, Stilian Petrov and Craig Gardner were injured during the Boxing Day defeat at Tottenham.

Mellberg and Hughes are being treated for knee injuries after colliding - Hughes left the field on a stretcher. O'Neill is 'hopeful' that both defenders will recover for the Charlton game, but Petrov's hamstring strain appears more serious. Gardner has a calf problem and although he got through against Spurs - a match Chris Sutton missed with an ongoing blurred vision problem - O'Neill said he should have been substituted. With Stuart Taylor, Thomas Sorensen, Mark Delaney, Martin Laursen and Luke Moore all long-term absentees the local Villa here in Warwickshire are viewing the visit to a resurgent Charlton with growing unease.

Villa also have had a goalkeeping crisis and had to bring in a fat Hungarian from Palace so desperate was their plight. However, the Addickted may be spared the humour of seeing him between the posts as he may be recalled to Sellout Park to deal with a keeper crisis there.

Villa are basically the same relatively mediocre team as last year, although Barry has been on form and local boy made good Agbonlahor was a handful when they beat us at Villa Park. However, Villa do not really have an effective striker, although that may be less of a problem for them given the quality of Charlton's midfield and the somewhat desperate character of its defence.

Our form at home against Villa has been mixed in the Premiership with two wins, three losses and two draws. The Villains are predicting a score draw which is no good for us so I will be optimistic and go for a 3-1 win, two from Darren and one from Marcus.

It has now been confirmed that Celtic have won the race to secure the services of Steve Pressley. Pressley's agent spoke well of Charlton and the 'nice people' there (sometimes I wish we were less nice) but said that the prospect of European football next season was the clincher.

There are rumours that Dennis Rommedahl may go out of loan for the rest of the season, although whether that is to a football club or Croydon Harriers is not clear.


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