| 7.9°C Dublin

O'Neill efforts to ease Villa congestion hit a brick wall

Martin O'Neill claims Aston Villa's attempts to ease a crowded fixture list by rearranging games for next month rather than in March have been blocked by the Premier League.

Villa have a demanding schedule this month, the result of a fixture backlog caused by their lengthy involvement in the Carling Cup and ongoing participation in the FA Cup, in which they visit Reading in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

O'Neill was hoping the Premier League would look kindly on their request to space out fixtures but has revealed their request has received an unsympathetic response.

He said: "We have got no midweek games in April at the moment but something like 7,000 in March as things stand! I've been reminded that we haven't won a game in March since I've been here. We'll now have an opportunity every two and a half days to change that.

"Because we have played so many games in the last two months, we asked the Premier League for a bit of help.

"But they want to get the fixtures in during March so we've got time to repent during April. There is no leeway for us at all."

O'Neill is anticipating Villa having to pull out all the stops to overcome revitalised Reading.

O'Neill said: "Reading have done well. Brian McDermott has stepped in there as manager and revitalised them."

Central defender Richard Dunne should be fit for the clash.

FA CUP: READING v aston villa

live utv/setanta sports 1 (ko 1.45)