O'Neill backs Villa's buzz to entice new blood

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The Independent Online

The Aston Villa manager, Martin O'Neill, has admitted it "wouldn't do any harm" to his chances of attracting high-quality players to Villa in January if the club can sustain their lofty position in the Premiership.

O'Neill is anxious to strengthen his squad, which has been depleted by injuries, when the transfer window reopens despite Villa being fifth in the table with a third of the season gone and having been beaten only once in 13 games.

The manager has been stretched to the limit in recent weeks with the likes of Luke Moore, Martin Laursen, Gavin McCann, Aaron Hughes, Stiliyan Petrov and Gareth Barry all unavailable at various times. "I don't get too carried away," O'Neill said. "We are fifth in the League and I am exceptionally pleased with the way the team are trying to perform. But we are capable of being beaten three or four times on the trot and also finding it difficult to get out of a rut. The more points we garner now, the better for us and that's how I look at it.

"Can we stay in the top four or five? You have to keep sustaining it and at the moment we wouldn't have the ability to sustain that. But we are getting closer to January where we, like everyone else, will be trying to strengthen our squad.

"I think there are some decent players at the club but I thought that from pre-season and I haven't changed my mind about that," O'Neill added. "We need to strengthen to give ourselves a chance. We need more bodies. If we are challenging for Europe still in January, I don't think it would do any harm in attracting players but we've got nine League games before then."

Meanwhile, the Villa midfielder, Steven Davis, has promised to recapture last season's form but accepts it will be a battle to regain a first-team place given the flying start made to the campaign by O'Neill's side.

Davis has found himself relegated to the substitutes' bench in recent weeks but he was impressive when he came on against Wigan Athletic at the weekend and he scored for the reserves against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday evening.

"I felt I was getting back to my best when I came on as a substitute at Wigan and hopefully that can be the start of better things for me," the Northern Ireland international said. "I was happy to play for the reserves the following night and it's always good to score at any level. Hopefully, it can help drive me on to better things for the first team.

"It's not going to be easy getting into the team, because we're doing so well. But every player wants to be part of a team that's at the right end of the table and I'm no different."

Davis admitted: "I know things haven't gone as well as I would have liked at the start of this season but I'm determined to get back to the form I showed last season.

"I'm not the only player looking to get back into the side. [The striker] Milan Baros was very impressive against Spurs in the reserves. He looked very lively and scored a good goal. It is good for the team if players are pushing to get back into the side."

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