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Stewart Downing's full Aston Villa debut worth the wait, says Martin O'Neill
Published : 02 Dec 2009 08:46:49
The 25-year-old has just recovered from a fractured foot and O'Neill believes there is more to come from the player he signed in the summer knowing he would miss the first part of the season. ''His performance suggests he was worth the wait,'' said O'Neill. Related ArticlesPortsmouth 2 Aston Villa 4Stewart DowningStewart Downing in picturesGrant wants to splash cash in JanuaryAvram Grant faces a new challenge at Fratton ParkAvram Grant: Portsmouth can avoid drop''It was really fantastic. He is not really properly fit yet. That was 20 minutes against Burnley, nothing against Tottenham on Saturday night, but I was always going to start him in this match. ''I was really pleased with him. What pleased me most was his ability on the ball. He can manoeuvre it, he can play and he's got a turn of pace when he's fully wound up. ''Properly fit, he'll be a proper player for us.'' O'Neill won the competition twice at Leicester and has seen the effect silverware has on the club, with Villa looking for their first major trophy since 1996. He also feels this cup has grown in importance this season. He added: ''As the Champions League seems to have grown in stature the League Cup has lost a bit of its lustre. But if you'd seen the line-up for the quarter-finals, it was very strong indeed. ''The competition seems to have galvanised itself again, with Chelsea and United wanting to win it. Manchester City are very strong, Arsenal are still there. It's particularly pleasing to be in there with that group of teams. ''It would be nice to win a trophy. It was particularly pleasing to do that at Leicester. Of course, it re-energised the football club and gave it a new status. ''With Villa, who have won this on quite a few occasions, it would be nice to be contesting it.'' Stiliyan Petrov's own goal gave Pompey an early lead but Emile Heskey and James Milner earned Villa a lead by half-time, with Downing heading home in the second half. Kanu pulled a goal back but Pompey's hopes of extra-time were dashed when Ashley Young completed the scoring.