Problematic Replay Comes In Carling Cup Week

14 February 2010 06:38
Will O'Neill rest players ahead of Manchester United showdown? Villa's FA Cup fifth round replay could hamper preparations for the Carling Cup final as it will be played just four days before the trip to Wembley. The Claret and Blue must face Crystal Palace on Wednesday February 24, meaning they will have minimal down time ahead of the massive match-up with Manchester United. Manager Martin O'Neill could choose to rest some first teamers ahead of the big Sunday showpiece but with Reading or West Brom away in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, he may believe that a second final is in the offing. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has already admitted that other matters - the Premier League and the Champions League - will take precedence and he will rotate his squad for the Carling Cup match. That would give Villa a real chance of claiming their first silverware since 1996 and O'Neill may not want to take a gamble on the fitness of some of his top stars in a replay against a Championship side. The Villa gaffer has often had faith in his second string but more often than not it has failed to pay off. Now he must choose whether to take a calculated risk against a spirited Palace side or just to go all guns blazing on all fronts.