Downing in line for home debut

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The Independent Online

Stewart Downing boosted his chances of making a home debut for Aston Villa against Tottenham on Saturday after a successful appearance for the reserves last night.

Martin O'Neill's £12m summer capture from Middlesbrough completed 75 minutes against Arsenal at Underhill and set up one of the goals in Villa's 2-1 success over the Gunners.

The England winger made a late appearance as a substitute against Burnley - his first for Villa - in last weekend's 1-1 draw in the Barclays Premier League.

Downing broke his foot in April, ironically in a tackle made by Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov, but O'Neill still went ahead with his recruitment despite the prospect of a lengthy lay-off.

O'Neill admitted: "Having Stewart available has given us another dimension and he is so keen to be involved and make an impression."

Meanwhile, central defender James Collins is again a doubtful starter to face Harry Redknapp's side with the groin injury which forced him out of the clash with Burnley.

O'Neill has been delighted with the contribution of Collins since his £5 million move from West Ham in August and he has formed an effective partnership with Richard Dunne.

He said: "What James has done for us so far hasn't surprised me. He is a quality centre-back, brave, and he can play the ball as well.

"I couldn't have asked much more of him but I would say he is a doubt still at the moment for the weekend and it (the groin) is something we will keep an eye on."

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