Villa players must not see red against Blues, says O'Neill

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The Independent Online

If Aston Villa are careless enough to lose two men to red cards while playing Manchester United, who knows how many players they could end up with by the closing stages of a frenzied derby? That concern has not passed Martin O'Neill by ahead of tomorrow's match with neighbours Birmingham City.

As such, the Villa manager has urged his players to maintain their discipline at St Andrews and not go the way of Scott Carson and Nigel Reo-Coker during the United match.

"I am conscious of the derby, that this is not just an ordinary game. It is my first Birmingham derby but not the players' first and they are definitely looking forward to the game," said O'Neill, who knows a thing or two about derbies from his Celtic days.

"I am hoping we can play well and I am hoping we show a bit of discipline. I don't want to end up as we did against Manchester United with nine players on the field after we had started that game so brightly.

"It can happen, you can be unlucky even if you are disciplined, but we've a better chance of winning if we've got 11 lads left out on the pitch. You want to give yourselves every chance."

O'Neill is hopeful winger Ashley Young will be fit. Young limped out of the 2-0 win over Derby with a groin strain last weekend and was unable to train on Friday, but O'Neill remains optimistic. Striker John Carew could come into the equation after missing six games with knee ligament damage, although he did not feature in Villa's midweek reserve game with Tottenham Hotspur.

The Birmingham manager Steve Bruce has injury concerns over Gary McSheffrey (calf), Cameron Jerome (stomach) and Garry O'Connor (groin). Their captain Liam Ridgewell will face his former club for the first time since his £2m move during the summer.

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