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Delays can spur Villa to victory

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is looking for his players to take out their recent frustrations on Blackburn Rovers tonight and close in on a Carling Cup final place at Wembley.

O'Neill's stars have been left kicking their heels for the past 12 days since beating Sam Allardyce's side in the third round of the FA Cup.

The winter weather that has gripped Britain put paid to the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final with Rovers last Tuesday and then Saturday's league game at Wigan Athletic.

That has left the Villa squad frustrated and itching for a return to action, which should be tonight at Ewood Park providing there is no late drama with the conditions in Lancashire.

"Because there have been almost universal postponements, I don't think it's as big a problem as you might imagine," said O'Neill.

"Yes, we've a couple of league cup semi-finals to play, and they have to be played midweek, and they're an extra couple of games. But they're an extra couple of games we're delighted to be playing in.

"So, overall, it's been frustrating, the frustration stemming from the fact we've travelled overnight to our last two games, and both have been called off the next day.

"However, that's the nature of things, and you just get on with it. If we had known the games were going to be called off then you could almost have treated it like a mini break.


"But because you've prepared for something, expecting it to happen and then it doesn't materialise, I don't consider it as a break as such.

"Therefore, it's not the same as if you've gone away to Dubai or something like that for a couple of days.

"If you've had the luxury of doing that, then well done. That's what I would call a proper break.

"But now we've got these two games -- hopefully. We've gone this far and we're going to try and put everything into them."

Although O'Neill refers to the Premier League as the 'holy grail' he recognises at this stage of a cup competition the possibility of silverware deserves respect. "At this stage I just think getting into a position to contest a League Cup final would be great news for the football club," added O'Neill.

"I've said it before and I'm reiterating, since 1982 Aston Villa haven't contested that many finals.There's been a couple of League Cup wins, which have been great, and there was the final of the FA Cup in 2000.

"But perhaps you would be expecting a little bit more and, as the expectation rises here, I am hoping we are able to accommodate that expectation."

O'Neill has no fresh injury concerns to contend with and is likely to name a full-strength side, albeit with goalkeeper Brad Guzan to continue his cup duties ahead of regular number one Brad Friedel.