Football: Merson unhappy at bit-part role

PAUL MERSON has admitted to being "frightened" of being labelled purely as a "super-sub" by his manager at Aston Villa, John Gregory.

Merson, who has just completed 12 months at Villa Park after his pounds 6.75m move from Middlesbrough, played a key role in Villa's last home League match, against Bradford, after coming off the bench.

The former Arsenal player, whose struggle with drug and gambling addictions has been well documented, is desperate to hold down a regular place in the side. But Merson fears Gregory may view him as being most effective in a bit-part role - and is resigned to turning out for the reserves against Middlesbrough tonight, rather than starting the Premiership match against Liverpool this weekend.

Merson said: "I came on as a sub against Bradford and Chester [in the Worthington Cup] and did OK, but I'm frightened that's the situation and role I could get into all the time.

"That's the thing that worries me, that being a sub could start to become my regular position and viewed as my best role because I've done so well coming on.

"The boss might look at it and think: `I've got to put a team out that might win - but if we don't look like doing that then I've got someone, Paul Merson, to fall back on to turn the game'.

"He might also be thinking `If I play Paul Merson from the start and things aren't working then what and who do we fall back on to turn things around?'

"I want to play regularly but I don't think I've got half a chance of playing on Saturday against Liverpool. I am being realistic. You get vibes and feelings about things, and that's one of them.

"There is a lot of added pressure on me to perform if I play, but I don't mind that. I know I can play, but it upsets me when I don't perform or I'm not given the reins to perform."

Merson, nevertheless, does admit that he presents Gregory with a dilemma when it comes to picking his team. He said: "The manager is in a position at the moment where he can pick a team without me that is very solid but won't make a million chances. For a team in the top seven I don't think we've made 25 chances in eight games. If he goes the other way and plays me, we will make chances and I'll be the one that creates stuff. But we are not going to be as solid going the other way because I'm not an Ian Taylor. I won't get around the pitch, breaking the game up and tackling.

"It hurts me when I don't play, but I do understand it's a funny situation and the manager is thinking: `can I play him in that system?'

"But I know if I play and play well that we have got more than a 50-50 chance of winning."

n Middlesbrough are facing a midfield injury crisis ahead of Sunday's derby match against Newcastle. Paul Ince and Juninho are both doubtful for the game after picking up injuries in the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea last Saturday.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style