O'Leary calls on Angel to make his mark during Villa's travels

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The Independent Football

The Aston Villa manager, David O'Leary, is urging his leading scorer Juan Pablo Angel to reproduce his home form on opponents' grounds if he is to move into the top striker bracket.

Angel was the hero of Villa's midweek Carling Cup win over Chelsea, scoring once and having a hand in the winner for Gavin McCann, after netting two goals against Wolves at the weekend. He has established himself as a hero of the Holte End and this season he is Villa's leading marksman with 11 goals.

But Angel has seldom been as effective away from home and was substituted after an hour against Manchester United at Old Trafford a fortnight ago. O'Leary is mystified by the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Angel's performances when he pulls on the claret and blue shirt.

With the prospect of today's trip to Blackburn in mind, O'Leary said: "Does he need to do the business on the road? Yes, without a doubt. I can't give you a reason for it and you'll have to ask Juan about that.

"But that's where the really good strikers perform - not just at home but away from home as well - and they're consistent, season in and season out. They say, 'Judge me at the end of the season, here's my bag of goals', and not on the flash-in-the-pan stuff.

"That is what Juan has got to do if he is going to be the striker we hope he is. He has got to be judged on what he does home and away. He's got the ability. He cost nearly £10m. This is not a lad who has come off the streets to us and is a bargain buy. He is a good player - and he should be for that kind of money."

O'Leary has managed to bring the best out of Angel - albeit mainly at Villa Park - after the player looked certain to leave the club last summer, but he admits to being a hard taskmaster. "I demand a lot of the players and I demand a lot of Juan because he has that ability. "

It is the away form of Villa in general - one win in 19 months - that O'Leary knows has to be improved if his team are to make strides away from the Premiership relegation zone.

After today's game at Ewood Park, Villa then have to take on Leeds at Elland Road on Boxing Day. "We had a good win against Chelsea and you hope that will give the players self-belief and confidence, although only time will tell. We've got two very difficult away games. Blackburn will be tough on their own patch and they are coming into form.

"They've had a sticky patch but they were always going to come through it with the quality of players that they have."