O'Neill excited by Blackburn cup clashes

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The Independent Online

Martin O'Neill is relishing the prospect of a cup double header with Blackburn in January when the two clubs will meet three times in little more than a fortnight.

Villa will host Blackburn in the FA Cup third round on January 2 and the two sides will then do battle in the two-legged Carling Cup semi-finals.

Villa have already been beaten 2-1 at Blackburn in the Barclays Premier League this season, but O'Neill is looking forward to the cup clashes.

"We're delighted to be in the semi-finals and we have a number of big cup games coming up in January against Blackburn Rovers," he said.

"With us also facing one another in the FA Cup, there will be a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between Villa Park and Ewood Park in a short space of time.

"We will look forward to this when the time comes.

"But it is a fillip for everyone at the club to have a semi-final to look forward at the start of 2010. It will be terrific."

Meanwhile, Villa have dismissed reports linking them with former Liverpool and Birmingham winger Jermaine Pennant, who is currently with Real Zaragoza.

A statement read: "The club have moved to deny newspaper claims they are set to move for Jermaine Pennant."

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