Cool Davis immune to Birmingham provocation

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The Independent Online

Aston Villa's rookie midfielder Steven Davis has told Robbie Savage he will be wasting his time trying to wind him up in Sunday's derby.

Aston Villa's rookie midfielder Steven Davis has told Robbie Savage he will be wasting his time trying to wind him up in Sunday's derby.

Savage takes great satisfaction from coming out on top against Villa and enjoyed considerable success with Leicester and now Birmingham, who are unbeaten in four meetings with Villa since returning to the Premiership. The Wales international is never far from the heat of battle and two seasons ago Dion Dublin was sent off after head-butting Savage at Villa Park.

But Davis is a phlegmatic character and is confident he will stay cool if Savage and his team-mates attempt to unsettle him. The Ballymena-born 19-year-old said: "I'm not going to pick myself for the game but, if I do play, I don't think I would get wound up.

"Robbie is the type of player who does that. But I'm quite level-headed. He is a good player and I've got respect for him. You've got to show players respect - but not too much."

Meanwhile, Martin Laursen is hoping his injury nightmare is behind him as he prepares to make his return for Villa. The Denmark international should taste his first competitive action for nearly four months in a reserve team match with Birmingham next Monday.

Laursen, signed from Milan for £3m in the summer, has had a succession of problems with his right knee during his career. He has been out of action for Villa since the third league match of the season against Charlton at The Valley in August but is increasingly optimistic that he will soon be pushing for a first-team place.

"I've had these problems in the past with my right knee and I hope this is the end of the injuries for me now," Laursen said. "This has been particularly frustrating because when you come to a new club you want to make a good impression and show that you can contribute."

The Villa manager David O'Leary confirmed: "Martin has been making good progress and we are hoping he can play some part in the reserve derby with Birmingham next week."

O'Leary has received another fitness boost with the news that the club's German midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has shaken off a thigh strain and should be available for Sunday's derby.

Hitzlsperger has returned to training, and said: "I'm very hopeful of being involved on Sunday. Those are the sort of games that everyone wants to participate in."

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