Steve Sidwell puts operation on hold to answer Aston Villa's midfield crisis

30 October 2010 10:59
Heel play: Steve Sidwell set to star against Birmingham

Steve Sidwell has postponed an Achilles operation to help AstonVilla through a midfield player shortage ahead of Sunday's derby clashwith Birmingham at Villa Park.

The former Chelsea player will partner Nigel Reo-Coker in the centreof the park against Alex McLeish's side as Villa look for a seventhsuccessive win against their local rivals. 

Villa are short of numbers in that department, with skipperStiliyan Petrov out for up to three months with knee ligament damageand Fabian Delph still recovering from a similar setback. 

In addition, Marc Albrighton is suspended following his red card against Burnley in the Carling Cup in midweek.  

Villa boss Gerard Houllier said: 'Steve's operation has been delayed because he and Nigel will be playing on a regular basis. 

'He could have said "okay, I'm having my operation and we will see after that".  

'He hasn't complained. Usually when you play, sometimes injuries disappear. I would say that is one of them.  

'Iknow the strength of my squad. I would have preferred some of theplayers who are injured or suspended to be available - but we cancope.'  

Houllier has an outstanding derby record, for Liverpool against Everton and Lyon at the expense of St. Etienne.  

He said: 'I think I lost my first one at Liverpool. It was a battle. It felt like everyone was sent off! 

'But after that we had a good record against Everton. The Blues were happy when I left Liverpool!  

'St Etienne is different because there is so much rivalry between the two clubs. St Etienne was a big club when Lyon was coming up. But we had a good record.  

'In a derby, I think first of all you need to be really aware thatit's a different game in terms of commitment, intensity and theattitude, which is different.  

'At the same time you haveto show some qualities which are absolutely indispensable to win it, ontop of your football qualities.  

'For instance,self-control, composure, character. There are things that happen inderbies sometimes that you have to overcome.  

'You have to be focused and very concentrated, and you know in that sort of game the will to win is as important as skill.' 

Houllier has plenty of admiration for the success his friend, AlexMcLeish, has achieved at Birmingham during the past two years.  

Hesaid: 'Alex has been a friend for a very long time. He's done atremendous job because he got them back in the Premier League.  

Respect: Gerard Houllier (left) has a lot of time for Howard Webb (right)

'I think there was some unfair criticism of him but this is part of our job. Sometimes you're a hero and sometimes you're a zero.  

'In fact we know we are never a hero or zero, we are just in between.

'The job has become more difficult because of expectations of people and because of pressure and all sorts of things.'  

Howard Webb will be in charge of the derby and Houllier has immense respect for the way he officiated the World Cup final between Spain and Holland.  

He said: 'I think he was outstanding in the World Cup final. He wanted to keep the game normal, 11 versus 11.  

'I know he could have sent off one of the Dutch players (Nigel de Jong), but he didn't and it's credit to him because he had the courage to stand up to it.  

'It was a difficult game. That's why his refereeing was, to me, spot on.' 

Villa winger Ashley Young is often seen making his feelings known to referees during matches.  

Houllier is happy with his actions providing he shows the official proper respect.  

And he has told Young he has to be 'strong enough' to overcome any rough treatment that may be handed out to him by defenders.  

Houllier said: 'I am not concerned providing he's respectful to the referee. I know he got a yellow card (against Burnley) but this was the first.  

'He sometimes gets bad treatment, like all the players that are swift. Ashley has got to be strong enough to overcome that. In a derby you can't complain.  

'You don't have 90 minutes to express your feelings, you don't want prima donnas for instance, those kind of players that raise their hands saying "oh my god", because one of their team-mates doesn't pass or misses.'

 McLeish feels the heat as Birmingham prepare to face Aston Villa in fiery derbyBIRMINGHAM CITY FC: All the latest news from across the webASTON VILLA FC: All the latest news from across the webCompetition: Win tickets to see Birmingham v West Ham - courtesy of Barclays

 Explore more:People: Fabian Delph, Ashley Young, Alex McLeish, Gerard Houllier Places: Lyon, Birmingham, Liverpool, Spain, The Netherlands

Source: Daily_Mail