Time for Villa to lift some trophies, says Petrov

Captain demands honours to mark side's development under Martin O'Neill
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The Independent Football

The Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has called on the side to take the next step after three years of progress under manager Martin O'Neill and start winning silverware.

Petrov believes Villa have been heading in the right direction since O'Neill took charge in the summer of 2006, with two successive top six finishes in the Premier League. Now the Bulgaria international wants Villa to put a trophy in the cabinet as they go into tonight's home Carling Cup game with Cardiff City.

Petrov said: "I think we have made very good progress in the last couple of years but now we will try to aim for something higher. We will try and get some silverware and I hope we can do it this season.

"It will be hard. I think people expect more from us. We know the expectations from last season, the pressure that comes with it, and we are ready to fight again and handle that pressure. Every player here wants to win things. That's what we are fighting for and the fans want to see the team do well."

O'Neill is expected to make changes from the side that beat Portsmouth 2-0 at the weekend – their fourth successive league win – to face Cardiff. But Petrov is convinced Villa now have the strength in depth to be able to rotate without weakening the side.

He said: "It is a good-sized squad. That is why the manager brought players in. He will rotate. We've got cup games, league games, games that will come quickly, especially around Christmas time, so it is up to the manager how we rotate.

"We've got players to bring in now and we will be just as strong and everyone is prepared to play. Even those not playing will be working to get their chance."

On-song striker Gabriel Agbonlahor echoed Petrov's sentiments. He said: "We want to push on in the cup. We have struggled in the cup in recent years and we are looking to improve that. We want some silverware. The big teams take the cup seriously even though they are in the Champions League, the Chelseas, Manchester Uniteds, so we are taking it seriously.

"Our record in the Carling Cup has seen us struggle in recent years. Maybe we haven't taken it seriously but we are trying to put that right this season. Cardiff have made a good start to the season, but also look at the way we are playing."

One player waiting to see if he will get an opportunity against Cardiff is midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, who was left out of the squad to face Pompey after a training ground altercation with O'Neill.

He has since apologised to the manager and will hope O'Neill is in a forgiving mood. Petrov said: "I have spoken to Nigel. No-one would want to be in this situation and Nigel knows what he's done. The manager knows as well and we will try and help them both to get things right and get up and running again. Things like that happen. We are happy we have players like that. We have players who want to speak, want to fight, want to be a winner so that is a good thing. These things happen."

Villa have made exits from the competition to lower graded Leicester and QPR in the past two seasons, and O'Neill is keen to make progress even though he will make changes.

He said: "I'll have a look at things. We will make changes but I really want to win the game."

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