Villa up for top-four fight - O'Neill

11 March 2009 03:32
Villa have returned from a five-day trip to Dubai to start the countdown in earnest to Sunday's home Premier League clash with Tottenham.

They have gone six games without a win in all competitions amidst fears of running out of steam after playing competitive football since early July via the Intertoto Cup.

But Villa still hold a three-point lead over Arsenal and O'Neill is confident the trip abroad will have recharged their batteries.

O'Neill said: "When the team are together for more than an overnight stay for a game I think it is almost inevitable that the players bond and get on better.

"They are living together for a few days and I really think that experience helps the entire team.

"I felt it was important for us because we wanted to get prepared for this very tough run-in, mentally and physically.

"We have done some training and enjoyed some sun and the players now feel refreshed.

"It was vital to regroup, get ourselves together again and now we want to go out and win some games."

With only the league left to concentrate on, Villa should be able to cope with their schedule during the final two and a half months of the campaign.

O'Neill's main concern is that he does not pick up any more injuries when players are away on international duty at the end of March for nearly two weeks.

He said: "We are in the position, other than the international break, where we are in charge of the training and the rest and stepping up and down of the players in terms of what they do in training.

"That fortnight where they are away is something I am not in control of.

"You just hope and pray that the players come back but for the rest of the time we know what we need to do between now and the end of the season."

However, Villa skipper Martin Laursen has suffered a setback in his bid to return to action after his knee problem.

Laursen had hoped to be back in contention for the game at Manchester United on April 5 but suffered a reaction during training.

O'Neill added: "Martin has had a bit of a setback. He was doing fine and then his knee got a bit sore and puffed up a little bit after training.

"Hopefully it will only be a three or four day setback. But any setback at this stage would be a genuine one simply because of Martin's importance to the team.

"Maybe his enthusiasm was too strong, he was possibly doing too much, too soon. But we will see. He may even have been ahead of schedule at one stage so we just hope it's a minor setback at the moment."

Source: Team_Talk