Angel's future in the balance at Villa Park

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The Independent Football

By John Curtis, PA Sport

Aston Villa's record signing, Juan Pablo Angel, will hold talks with the club over his future in the summer. However, the Colombian international has made it clear he will not be content with another season of being a bit-part player in David O'Leary's plans.

O'Leary brought the best out of Angel in his first season in charge at Villa Park in 2003-2004 when the striker scored 23 times. It earned the £9.5m striker from River Plate a four-year contract but since then Angel has seldom produced the same level of performance.

Angel has scored only twice in the current campaign and has started just one game since late January - the goalless draw at Charlton. He said: "We will see what happens. We have to sit down and talk about it. I have made my feelings clear but we will see what happens in the summer.

"I want to play regular football. I won't like to have another season like this, being on the bench for most of the season."

O'Leary is set to turn to the rookie midfielder Craig Gardner to fill the gap left by Steven Davis for Tuesday's Premiership game at the JJB Stadium. Davis suffered a hamstring injury during the first half of Sunday's derby win over Birmingham and is likely to be out of action for the remainder of the campaign.

Villa's captain, Olof Mellberg, is still battling to overcome the hamstring injury which has ruled him out of the last four games. But the emergence of Gary Cahill, who scored his first goal for the club against Birmingham, has softened the blow of being without the Swedish international.

The Wigan captain, Arjan De Zeeuw, is out of the Premiership match against Aston Villa and the remainder of the season. The Latics have confirmed that the 35-year-old Dutchman fractured his collarbone in a clash with Newcastle's Stephen Carr on Saturday and will be missing for six to eight weeks.

Matt Jackson is a major doubt with the knee injury he picked up in the 3-1 defeat at St James' Park.

But the Wigan manager, Paul Jewell, remained upbeat yesterday. "We have got to pick ourselves up," he said. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We are playing Aston Villa and we have got more points than Aston Villa, so don't feel sorry for us. Yes, we might be all hands to the pumps, but that's what we'll have to do."

To spend much of the season within touching distance of a place in Europe is a genuine achievement, and Jewell believes his side's current difficulties must be put into perspective.

"You have got to be careful," he said. "You have got to take the season as a whole. Everyone thought we would be fighting a relegation battle and the season would go right to the wire and if we could finish in 17th position, we would have been absolutely elated.

"We have done far better than that. We have stayed in the league - we have stayed in the league comfortably."

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