Friedel denies that Fulham link spurred manager's exit

Brad Friedel has dismissed reports that a possible move for him from Aston Villa to Fulham was one of the reasons behind Martin O'Neill quitting the Midlands club.

The American keeper became the first Villa player to comment publicly on O'Neill's shock resignation on Monday. Friedel was surprised that O'Neill chose to quit after taking training that day. There was speculation that Friedel was being allowed to join the Cottagers in addition to James Milner going to Manchester City.

Friedel said: "That story was made up. I've never had contact from Fulham or with Fulham. I never had a conversation with Martin about it. I don't know where that came from."

Villa's No 1 insists the focus is on gaining three points against West Ham this weekend and believes the caretaker manager, Kevin MacDonald, will have the respect of the players.

He said: "We are all surprised [about O'Neill leaving]. [Monday] was training as normal and I was just sitting at home with the kiddies when the news came up on television. Today we had our meetings about going forward and it's down to us now to do the right thing for the club and get three points against West Ham.

"We were just told Kevin MacDonald is taking charge and it's just our duty as players to get ready for West Ham. We trained as normal. Kevin is well respected by all the players and training was good this morning. All the lads really put the work in. Hopefully, it won't be an issue and we can get the three points."

Out-of-favour centre-back Curtis Davies has claimed he was one of several players not given a fair crack of the whip by O'Neill. The defender was one of six players made available for transfer this summer, and he said: "I was shocked about Martin O'Neill going. I got a text that he resigned and I didn't see it coming, to be honest.

"But a lot of players have been frustrated by not having a fair crack of the whip and I'm one of them. There is no guarantee whoever comes in is going to play you or not play you. But if you feel you have got a chance, then you are happy. As long as someone who comes in is fair, I am sure people will be happy. I felt I didn't have a chance."

Davies admitted: "It is not an ideal situation four days before the season, not to have a manager, but you've got to deal with what you've got. You've got good players at this club and Kevin MacDonald is a good coach. Hopefully, he has got enough time and we can pull together for him."

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