Alex McLeish wants reaction from Aston Villa

 

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The Independent Online

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish is looking for a positive response from his players after holding a "constructive" meeting in the aftermath of last night's 2-0 home Carling Cup defeat by Bolton.

Villa were greeted with boos from their fans at the final whistle despite it being their first loss of the campaign, goals from Chris Eagles and on-loan Chelsea player Gael Kakuta having proved decisive at Villa Park.

McLeish did not appear to face the media for an hour after the match as he and his squad dissected a below-par performance.

Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan made only one serious save - in the 87th minute and from a defender in James Collins.

When asked if there were "a few words spoken" afterwards, McLeish replied: "Yes, but it wasn't a shouting match. It was an adult conversation.

"I wanted to hear the views of the experienced players and it was constructive.

"It is a learning process for a lot of the younger players out there but the team have to bounce back.

"The experienced guys have done it so many times before, guys like Richard Dunne, so that's the reaction I'll be looking for.

"We know we are not Manchester United but we are trying to blood some young players and fast-track them to be Premier League players and be successful in cup competitions."

The major plus point for McLeish was the display of substitute Charles N'Zogbia, who has struggled to show his best form since moving from Wigan during the summer.

McLeish said: "Charles came on and I thought he looked bright. We saw some end product from him, some good delivery.

"Charles just needed a wee break to think about things as well and he came on and gave us a great reaction."

McLeish will hope record signing Darren Bent will have recovered from a groin problem in time for Sunday's clash at QPR but admits it is "touch and go".

He said: "Darren is not as bad as first feared. But he is touch and go for the weekend. He is at this stage 50-50."

Bolton boss Owen Coyle has a selection headache for the weekend trip to Arsenal after being impressed by some of the nine players he brought into the side at Villa.

He said: "I think as a manager that is a problem you crave.

"You want to be picking a team because players are playing well, not because you've got three or four on song and the rest are out of sorts.

"A few of them have put themselves in real contention for the match at Arsenal on Saturday. That is a nice headache to have.

"David Ngog looked really lively up front, despite having to deal with two top centre-halves in James Collins and Richard Dunne.

"The two wide players, Chris Eagles and Gael Kakuta, looked a threat all night. It looked a nice balance."

Coyle was also relieved to end a run of 13 goals conceded in the previous four games.

He said: "The other big boost is that it was the first clean sheet we've had since the opening day of the season at QPR.

"That gives everyone confidence. If you can get the platform of those clean sheets, it gives you the basis to try to win games."

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