Uefa Cup preview: O'Neill relishing European challenge
Thursday 23 October 2008
Martin O'Neill is hoping occasions such as tonight's Uefa Cup visit of Ajax will become commonplace at Villa Park.
O'Neill looks forward to Villa's long-term involvement in Europe
Aston Villa v Ajax Martin O'Neill is hoping occasions such as tonight's Uefa Cup visit of Ajax will become commonplace. "We don't want to experience such nights just this season. It is something that we do want to bring to the club long term and we feel we are really into the Uefa Cup now with the visit of someone like Ajax," the Villa manager said. O'Neill's squad has almost a clean bill of health for tonight's Group F game, with long-term casualty Wilfred Bouma the only player unavailable for the visit of Marco van Basten's side. O'Neill confirmed Nicky Shorey will return at left-back after being left out of the starting line-up against Portsmouth at the weekend, with Gareth Barry set to be restored to the Villa midfield.
Aston Villa (from): Friedel, L Young, Davies, Cuellar, Knight, Laursen, Shorey, Milner, Barry, Petrov, Reo-Coker, A Young, Gardner, Carew, Agbonlahor, Harewood, Guzan, Sidwell, Routledge, Osbourne.
Under-fire Ramos is 'perfect coach', says Udinese manager
Udinese v Tottenham Roman Pavlyuchenko and Vedran Corluka are cup-tied for Spurs' Uefa Cup game against Udinese at Stadio Friuli. Tom Huddlestone has an injury and has not travelled to Italy to face the side second in Serie A. Ledley King is in the squad and a decision on whether he will play will be made this morning. Tottenham manager, Juande Ramos, might be under growing pressure after the side's wretched start in the Premier League but his Udinese counterpart, Pasquale Marino, expects him to turn things around. "He is a perfect coach," Marino said. "He is not at his best at the moment but this happens to everyone. I agree that Tottenham are not playing at their best. They have had bad luck, which is why they are bottom of the League."
Tottenham (from): Gomes, Cesar, Hutton, Bale, Gunter, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto, Woodgate, Zokora, Bentley, Jenas, Gilberto, Modric, O'Hara, Giovani, Bent, Campbell.
Injury forces Diarra and Kaboul to miss trip to Portugal
Braga v Portsmouth Portsmouth will be without Lassana Diarra (knee) and Younes Kaboul (back) for tonight's Uefa Cup game with Sporting Braga in Portugal. Noe Pamarot could keep his place at left-back, leaving either Nadir Belhadj or Armand Traoré on the bench. Sean Davis, sent off on Saturday at Aston Villa, is clear to play but Richard Hughes (groin) is another injury doubt. Pompey knocked out Vitoria Guimaraes in the first round of the competition earlier this month, coming back from two goals down in the second leg to go through 4-2 on aggregate after extra-time. Now, just a short drive from Guimaraes they are up against a Braga team with just one league win to their name this season.
Portsmouth (from): James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Pamarot, Diop, Davis, Hughes, Traoré, Belhadj, Crouch, Defoe, Little, Utaka, Mvuemba, Kanu, Hreidarsson, Thomas, Ashdown.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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