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O'Neill hopes for Euro run
17 Jun 2008 - 12:53:59
Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill believes a strong European campaign next season could lead to several of his youthful players coming of age.
The Midlands club are hoping to qualify for the UEFA Cup via the Intertoto Cup and O'Neill believes the opportunity to face some of Europe's leading sides could be the making of his young side.
Villa face Lisburn Distillery of Northern Ireland and then either Finnish side TPS Turku or Odense BK of Denmark in the Intertoto Cup third round next month with a place in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup up for grabs.
"If we can get through the Intertoto and into the UEFA Cup it could be great experience for our players," O'Neill told the club's official website.
"If we can get through to the group stages, where you can take stock a little bit, that would certainly be the case.
"I think Everton would say they're much better equipped for Europe next season as a result of their terrific run this year and the experience gained from that.
"I saw that at (former club) Celtic with a number of players. Stiliyan Petrov was only a young player when we had the UEFA Cup run through to the final in 2003 and he grew in stature as the competition went on.
"Hopefully we can see the same with our young players. The likes of Gabby (Agbonlahor) and Ashley Young can only benefit for that experience as they continue to develop as players."