Football: Villa keep faith with three-man front line while Taylor is given vital role to play

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The Independent Online
The Aston Villa midfielder Ian Taylor has been recalled for tonight's Uefa Cup third-round first-leg match away to Steaua Bucharest - with Brian Little insisting he has a key role to play.

Little had no hesitation in bringing Taylor back into the starting line- up, after he missed Saturday's 2-1 win over Everton while serving the first match of a three-game domestic suspension. The Villa manager is aware of the threat that Steaua's quickfire play in the final third of the field can pose - with Radu Cozma earmarked as the danger man - and he wants to keep it tight by taking a grip in the centre of the field. That is where Taylor, the scorer of the opening goal in the 2-1 home win against Athletic Bilbao in the second round, can fit the bill, with his committed style of play.

Little said: "If we allow them to play in the final third of the field too much, then they are clever enough to break you down. They are neat on the one-twos. We have got to try and break the game up more in midfield than at the back.

"Our centre-backs were outstanding in Bordeaux and Bilbao - but we don't want to be just soaking pressure up and then relying on the occasional break. We want to play further up the field," Little added. "Ian Taylor can have a key part in that and he has been very important to us this season. He can break things up. That's the sort of thing we are looking for, and it is one of his strengths."

Taylor's inclusion is likely to mean Fernando Nelson switching from midfield to a right wing-back role, at the expense of Gary Charles. However, Little will again pick his three main strikers - Stan Collymore, Savo Milosevic and Dwight Yorke - and he believes the trio can exploit the Steaua defence.

"Bucharest play with three centre-backs but also try to play offside and I might encourage our three lads to push on to their shoulders and to try and get behind them," Little said.

Little will be without Sasa Curcic, left behind in Birmingham after reporting ill with a virus, in addition to the injured Gareth Southgate, while Mark Bosnich will be on World Cup duty with Australia. The centre-back Lee Collins, 19, is in the squad.