Big Eck backs Zog to wing it

Villa received around £36million after selling Young and

Downing to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively with

N’Zogbia brought in from Wigan. He has struggled to make a telling

impact so far but impressed as a substitute in the midweek Carling

Cup defeat against Bolton. McLeish, whose side visit QPR on Sunday,

said: “Let’s not kid ourselves, losing guys like Ashley Young and

Stewart Downing can hurt anybody. “We lost a couple of really good

players in those two amongst others who left at the end of the

season (Nigel Reo-Coker, Brad Friedel). “But we’ve got players in

and it’s now a challenge for them to show that they can emulate

these players.” McLeish came close to signing N’Zogbia when manager

of Birmingham and is confident he will eventually show his true

form. He said: “Charles is a player who, for me, in the last two

months of last season did a lot to keep Wigan in the Barclays

Premier League. “There’s been some decent play from him with us. I

thought he did well on his debut and against Wolves. “But the final

ball that we’re used to seeing him delivering has just eluded him

at the moment. “He’ll get that. He’s looking much, much brighter,

he came on the other day (against Bolton) and did well. “He

believes in himself. We’ve just got to keep believing in him.”

McLeish is looking for a positive reaction after the Carling Cup

exit after speaking with his experienced players at the end of the

game. He said: “We need a reaction. I think on the night Bolton

were a bit more experienced and streetwise than us. “We definitely

got into good positions, but the final ball or the retention of the

ball wasn’t up to standard. So we have to get those standards

raised. “I wanted to hear a couple of the experienced players’

points of view after the game and it was fine. It was a good

debate. “We’re not the only Premier League club to get knocked out

of the Carling Cup. But we don’t like losing at home and the fans

don’t like that either.” Villa’s record signing Darren Bent is

ruled out of the trip to Loftus Road with his groin problem but

will not require surgery. But his involvement with England for

their Euro 2012 qualifier with Montenegro on October 7 will depend

on him being fit to face Wigan next weekend. McLeish said: “He’s

not bad. We think he’ll be ready for the next game. “There was a

bit of fluid but I think the scan was quite good in terms of good

news for Darren. “There wasn’t anything that would suggest it would

keep him out longer or he would have to get any kind of operation.

“Will he be available for England? That depends on him being fit

for us next weekend.” Emile Heskey (hamstring) is still unavailable

and on-loan Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas is given a 50-50

chance of recovering from a thigh problem.