Little refuses to be critical

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The Independent Online
Brian Little is refusing to blame Aston Villa's scoring problems on his usually prolific midfield player Ian Taylor. The Villa manager watched his side - and principally Taylor - miss a catalogue of excellent chances in Tuesday night's goalless draw at Crystal Palace, extending to five the number of matches since one of his players scored.

Taylor - the scorer of 28 League goals in the last two seasons for Port Vale - screwed one shot wide when through on goal and skied another over the bar from three yards in the last minute. "Hopefully, he'll get them on another day," Little said. "He's just got to get his head up. I thought he took too long to recover when he missed the first one. You don't criticise people when they're doing their best. Long-term I hope the goals will come for him but for now the team effort towards avoiding relegation is the main thing."

Little had to make do with a strike force of the winger Dwight Yorke and out-of-favour Dalian Atkinson at Selhurst Park with Dean Saunders (flu), Tommy Johnson (hamstring) and John Fashanu (knee) all unavailable.

The ever-willing Taylor, brought in last Christmas in exchange for £300,000 and the struggling Guy Whittingham, established a reputation as a goalscoring midfielder in the lower divisions before joining Sheffield Wednesday for £1.5m last summer. He only managed one Premiership goal in four months of limited appearances at Hillsborough, however, before switching to his home-town club. And, after scoring on his home debut at Villa Park, he has gone 14 League games without a goal.

Little, who has set a survival target of seven points from the remaining six games, is reported to be lining up a summer move for the Nottingham Forest striker Stan Collymore.

In the meantime, only an Ipswich own-goal and a consolation effort from the midfielder Andy Townsend at Newcastle have brought them reward since Leicester came back to snatch a 4-4 draw in February.