O'Neill allays Heskey fitness fears

16 January 2010 11:33
Heskey was taken off as a precaution with a slight hamstring problem during the first leg of Villa's Carling Cup semi-final win over Blackburn on Thursday.[LNB]That was the second time it has happened recently, but O'Neill insisted Heskey's fitness is not a major cause for concern.[LNB]"Emile came off again against Blackburn with a tight hamstring to prevent any further damage," said O'Neill. "But he is now not feeling too bad.[LNB]"I think that sometimes in the case of Emile, when you haven't played for a little while, there is a possibility that the hamstrings are tight. It is something that a few players have complained about recently.[LNB]"But Emile in particular was suffering from it and there was no point in risking him. From that viewpoint we made the substitution.[LNB]"He did not complete the previous game in the FA Cup but I am hoping that it is not too big a problem."[LNB]Heskey is poised to start against West Ham as Villa look to exact revenge for their last-gasp defeat at Upton Park in November.[LNB]And O'Neill does not think the Hammers' off-field issues will have any effect on their players.[LNB]He added: "The game against West Ham is naturally difficult for us.[LNB]"They will come to Villa Park and play strongly. The off-the-field goings on at the moment will not affect their players."[LNB]O'Neill is an admirer of West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola.[LNB]He said: "Zola has been a really great player and he is coping with things magnificently in management.[LNB]"These things are set to try him out and he is going along very well. This is why West Ham will be strong on the day."[LNB]O'Neill is looking for Villa to build upon their 1-0 win at Blackburn as he prepares his team for three games in six days.[LNB]He is particularly keen for his side to get back to winning ways in the league following defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal.[LNB]"We could have had a more conclusive win at Blackburn," he said.[LNB]"There were a couple of decisions which went against us. They are very important and in the scheme of things they might prove even more important.[LNB]"We had had a little break before the game and I thought we looked very fresh at Blackburn.[LNB]"Some of our first half play was very inventive indeed considering it was a semi-final with a few nerves jangling around the place.[LNB]"But Sunday's game against West Ham is just as important, every bit as important as we want to regain momentum in the league.[LNB]"Obviously that was lost with the defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal. The Liverpool defeat was particularly galling.[LNB]"We have to fight back and put aside any thoughts of Wednesday night because the Premiership is very, very important."[LNB][LNB]

Source: Team_Talk