Swedes to bring best out of Villa

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Aston Villa's manager, Brian Little, is determined that a year's hard work will not be thrown away by his side faltering against Helsingborgs in today's return leg of their Uefa Cup first round tie.

He described his side's performance in the 1-1 draw in the first leg draw as "our poorest for 12 months", and said it prompted a team meeting in an effort to thrash out the problems. "A lot has gone into us getting to this position. We wanted so badly to play in this competition and to do well and we will try and respond to that challenge," he said.

Little's only selection poser concerns whether to play Ian Taylor or Tommy Johnson in place of the ineligible Sasa Curcic.

Newcastle United, in contrast to Villa, should have a simple task in Sweden to finish off Halmstads after winning the first leg 4-0. The match gives David Batty a chance to supplant the memory of his tussle with his Blackburn team-mate Graeme Le Saux in Moscow. "It certainly wasn't the best night of my life, and I'd prefer that people could forget about it," he said.

Celtic continue to display their rediscovered power in Scotland, but European competition is a different matter. Having lost 2-0 at home to Hamburg, they face a hard task in Germany today to stay in the Uefa Cup.

The Italian Paolo Di Canio, one of Celtic's influential additions, draws hope from the fate of his former club, Milan, in the Uefa Cup last season. They took a 2-0 lead to Bordeaux and lost 3-0. "Anything is possible in football. If it can happen to Milan it can happen to Hamburg."