Villa's new pair will take time to settle, O'Neill warns fans

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The Independent Football

The Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has warned that the club's new signings, Ashley Young and John Carew, will take time to make an impact as they prepare for their debuts in the Premiership clash at Newcastle United tonight.

O'Neill concedes it may be next season before Young, an £8m capture from Watford, and Carew, signed from Lyon in a swap deal with Milan Baros, will start to have a major effect.

Carew has not played since a Champions' League game against Steaua Bucharest on 6 December while the England Under-21 forward Young was signed largely on his potential.

O'Neill said: "The new lads have settled in OK but, just because we have signed a couple of people doesn't mean our fortunes have changed overnight and we will be challenging for the Champions' League.

"For them to change things immediately would be asking a lot. I will not be heaping a lot of pressure on them. I am excited by their arrival and would hope that, maybe starting next season, they would be making inroads.

"Ashley has phenomenal potentialwhile John has proved himself in big games across Europe. They have as good a chance of playing as anyone at Newcastle although John could do with a bit more work."

O'Neill accepts that Villa still need to get more points on the board to end any lingering chances of being relegated. Their win against Watford 10 days ago ended a run of 12 games without a victory in a period which saw them slide into the bottom half of the table.

O'Neill said: "We've got 14 games left and we need to win some matches. We've got a few points to get on the board."

The midfielder Stiliyan Petrov has recovered from a niggling hamstring injury and will be available tonight. The Bulgarian international has struggled to make an impact since his £6m move from Celtic in August.

O'Neil said: "Stiliyan is feeling much better. The injury has had a chance to clear up and he has done a lot of strengthening work. The hamstring wasn't really going to get any worse but it was restricting him."

O'Neill believes that the striker Luke Moore is close to a comeback after his first action in five months following shoulder surgery. Moore played the entire 90 minutes of Monday's reserve team game with Chelsea and has reported no ill-effects.

The central defender Martin Laursen is also nearer to a senior comeback. The Dane has been out for two months with a knee problem. The midfielder Lee Hendrie could return to Stoke for the remainder of the season after being told by O'Neill that he cannot be guaranteed a first-team place at Villa. Hendrie spent three months on loan at Stoke up until the New Year but there were reports of Blackburn being interested, although O'Neill insisted that he had had no contact with the manager Mark Hughes.

O'Neill said: "Lee had the opportunity at the weekend to go back to Stoke and it did not materialise - but I think that they may still happen."

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