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Aston Villa players relishing first cup final in a decade after rousing victory over Blackburn
Published : 21 Jan 2010 19:23:26
Naturally everyone assumed he was joking, and obliged with titters until he continued: "No, seriously, three games in six days has taken its toll. It will take until tomorrow to realise what they have done." By now his players will have taken stock, and begun in their own ways to put into perspective the achievement of taking their club to a Wembley final for the first time in a decade following their 6-4 victory, which put them through 7-4 on aggregate. Related ArticlesVilla play down Boyd talkO'Neill: James Milner is 'sensational'Allardyce: referee error cost us final placeAston Villa 6 Blackburn 4; agg 7-4Villa still living American dreamSport on televisionJames Milner, for example, might choose to reflect that the last time Aston Villa won the Carling Cup, under Brian Little in 1996, he was just 10 years old, witnessing the match first hand with his father and sister, and walking away from Wembley a dejected Leeds supporter. For the old (or older) players, like Richard Dunne and Stephen Warnock, the overriding feeling will perhaps be of relief to have finally reached a final. For Dunne, unlucky to see his second-half effort bundled in off Steven Nzonzi, given as an own goal against the Blackburn midfielder, this will be his first final in 14 years as a professional. "It will mean everything," said Warnock. "Dunny hasn't played in a final before, nor myself. It is a brilliant feeling." The left-back, a Blackburn boy until the summer, has added reason for good cheer, for it was he who converted Ashley Young's cross on the half-hour to breathe life into flat-lining team-mates. "I saw Stewart go inside and thought I'd try the back post," he said. "We were in desperate need of something and were fortunate to get back into the game at that point." Villa made good use of their foothold, the character they showed in doing so can surely be used as impetus for the rest of the season. "It inspires us to be more ambitious," Warnock agreed. "We have got big players at our club who want to play in finals every year. "It's learning how to win, getting that into your system, then trying to repeat it. We have the players. Richard Dunne, James Collins, Emile Heskey they are the sort of players you need around the squad."