Heskey still grounded as Villa rise

England striker stays calm as O'Neill's men hope to continue climb into top four

Emile Heskey is adamant Aston Villa will not allow themselves to be carried away by their surge up the Premier League table.

Villa climbed back into the third place they occupied briefly after Saturday's famous victory at Manchester United with Tuesday night's 2-0 win at Sunderland, as Heskey scored his third goal in five games. But manager Martin O'Neill was quick to play down their chances of remaining in the top four, and there is little danger of any complacency among his players.

Heskey said: "We have put ourselves in a great position and just have to keep there. We are not getting carried away, we just want to carry on and keep getting the points. We will see how we go over the Christmas period. This is the busiest period and we have a lot of games. We will see how we come through and where we go from there. It is interesting, because people will probably feel that we might die off a little bit. But we can, hopefully, stay up there."

Heskey opened the scoring at the Stadium of Light when, after Stewart Downing had hit the bar with a curling free-kick, he ran on to James Milner's pass and fired past the Sunderland goalkeeper Marton Fulop. Brad Friedel had to save well from Andy Reid before the break and the Irish winger wasted a golden opportunity to level four minutes after the restart.

But after Villa had hit the woodwork again through Ashley Young, Milner made sure of the points with a stunning 30-yard shot.

Milner said: "It was a throw-in and I just managed to get it out of my feet. It was just bobbling along and I thought, 'Why not have a go?' I think Stewart was calling for it so I had to make sure I hit the target, otherwise he would have given me a rollicking. But you have got to try your luck."

Heskey and Milner will both hope their efforts at club level will book their seats on the plane which flies Fabio Capello's England squad out to South Africa for next summer's World Cup finals. But Heskey, who comfortably overshadowed Sunderland's Darren Bent on Tuesday, is again taking nothing for granted.

Heskey said: "I just want to play games. I am just concentrating on playing for Aston Villa and anything that comes with that is a bonus."

For Sunderland, the defeat extended a run of poor results which has brought just five points from the last 24 on offer and taken much of the gloss off their impressive start to the season. To make matters worse, their captain, Lorik Cana, picked up his seventh and eighth bookings of the season and will be suspended for the second time in his short career on Wearside for Saturday's trip to Manchester City.

The one bright spot for the Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, was the return of Cana's central midfield partner Lee Cattermole, who played the final 19 minutes after eight weeks on the sidelines with medial ligament damage. Cattermole was a surprise inclusion among the substitutes, after initially being pencilled in to appear for the reserves at Hartlepool last night.

The 21-year-old modestly played down the significance of his absence, but is desperate to make up for lost time. "Quite a lot has been made of me being missing and we haven't maybe won as many games or we have lost quite a few games away from home," Cattermole said. "But we have played some tough games. I know we have had some poor results but I will just do my best now I am back to help the team get back on track. Hopefully, away at Manchester City on Saturday we can just try to keep things tight and come away with something."

Bruce will make a late decision on whether to field one of his most influential players again after deciding to pitch him into battle on Tuesday night with just a few days' training under his belt.

Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicReview: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses papparrazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
people
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
News
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik, 37, 2.59 meter (8,5 feet) tall, the world's tallest living man, waves as he poses for the media by the Chevrolet Tacuma car presented to him by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev on March 24, 2008.
newsPeasant farmer towered at almost 8'5'' - but shunned the limelight
News
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter
media
Life and Style
Could a robot sheepdog find itself working at Skipton Auction Mart?
techModel would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian
film
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sportWinger arrives from Real Madrid and could make debut on Saturday
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Hooked on classical: cellist Rachael Lander began drinking to combat panic attacks
musicThe cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow...
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis