Villa still on track, says Friedel

Brad Friedel is adamant Aston Villa’s season is not on the brink of unravelling. A tough seven days last week saw Martin O’Neill’s side go out of the FA Cup at Everton as well as lose their unbeaten 13-game run in the Premier League at home to Chelsea.

Sandwiched in between, Villa could only manage a 1-1 home draw in the first leg of their last 32 Uefa Cup match at home to a CSKA Moscow side currently in pre-season.

With O’Neill threatening to field a weakened side for the second leg on Thursday as he focuses on chasing a Champions League place for next season, there is every danger Villa’s campaign could come off the rails. But veteran goalkeeper Friedel, likely to be one of those rested for the game at the Luzhniki Stadium, is confident that will not happen.

“If you look at the game with Everton we had every chance to score the equaliser just before half-time, and then after it we were the better team,” said Friedel. “They then scored the killer third goal, so it wasn’t as if we were played off the park.

“Against Moscow we were in the ascendancy and could have come out comfortable winners. And then against Chelsea, some say could have, some say should have, some say maybe not, but we could have got a result. It’s not as if we are losing form. We are just going to have to dust ourselves off and go again. You go back to the training ground, work really hard and try to put it right in the next game. We’ve an excellent squad, with some tremendous players in the dressing room from top to bottom.”

Whatever side O’Neill fields on Thursday, they will all have to contend with the plastic pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium. It was at that ground in October 2007 that England were beaten 2-1 by Russia, a result which played a major part in then manager Steve McClaren’s side failing to reach Euro 2008. Playing down the significance of the surface, Friedel added: “It is different because you have to adjust to the pace and bounce of the ball. But it’s not something that’s so foreign you can’t cope with it. Plastic pitches nowadays are not as brutal as you might think, and as a goalkeeper you can get away with not wearing leggings as they have become that soft. I’ve one at my academy, and I tried them all out before I put one down.”

Villa captain Gareth Barry, 28 yesterday, is aware the artificial surface can pose problems, but insists no blame should be attached to it if they fail to make it through to the last 16. The midfielder said: “It is quite a difficult surface because you’re just not used to playing on it. You’re playing in moulded boots, rather than your studs which the majority of players wear. It is different, but we’ll have a day’s training beforehand and we’ll get used to it.The ball does bounce differently, but not enough to be used as an excuse.

“It rolls pretty straight. It doesn’t move and you get used to it. You’ve got to try and be experienced and not worry about it at all. You’ve just got to play your normal game.”

Villa left-back Wilfred Bouma is set to make his competitive comeback after six months out of action with a dislocated ankle. The Netherlands international has been pencilled in to play in Villa’s next reserve game with Chelsea on 2 March.

Bouma had initially been lined up to play last Monday against Arsenal’s second string but was withdrawn after his leg felt sore on the morning of the game. “Bouma should play in the next reserve game,” O’Neill said. “He should have played last week but felt a bit sore on the day of the game. He will not travel to Moscow for the Uefa Cup game with CSKA but he will do some work here.”

Carlos Cuellar and Nigel Reo-Coker will also not be part of the squad to face the Russians after recent hamstring problems. Cuellar will not be risked on the plastic pitch while Reo-Coker recently aggravated the problem in training.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power