McAllister stands by Reo-Coker

O’Neil was carried off on a stretcher after being challenged by

Reo-Coker during the Hammers 2-1 home reversal by Villa last

weekend. He underwent a two-hour ankle operation on Wednesday and

is facing at least several months out of action but there is also

concern his entire career may be in jeopardy. But Villa assistant

manager McAllister, who worked with O’Neil when on the coaching

staff at Middlesbrough, insists the tackle was fair and that

Reo-Coker won the ball. When asked about the reports of possible

legal action against Reo-Coker, McAllister said: “I am surprised. I

know Gary O’Neil quite well. I worked with him at Boro so, when I

saw that the knock he got was bad, I got our video guys to show me

the challenge. “I’ve got to say it’s a good tackle and it’s the

follow-through of Gary O’Neil which catches the base of Nigel’s

boot, where I think the problem comes from. “Nigel clearly gets the

ball. He’s come from the side, not from the back and I just don’t

think Gary O’Neil’s seen him. “It was just the sharpness of the

tackle and just the follow-through has caught the underside of

Nigel’s boot. “I think Nigel can rest assured it was a good

tackle.” Meanwhile, McAllister believes striker Gabriel Agbonlahor

will benefit from working alongside Villa coach Robert Duverne.

Agbonlahor has endured a disappointing and injury-hit season but

came off the substitutes’ bench to score the winner against West

Ham. McAllister said: “Gabby is looking sharp and fit in training

and, for a good spell now, competition is hot – which is good. “I

honestly think he will prosper working with Robert Duverne, who

brings something different to the table. “Gabby has never worked

with someone who has worked with David Trezeguet, Thierry Henry and

with Anderson, the Brazilian lad at Lyon. “I think the sort of

stuff that Robert does benefits strikers in particular with

sharpness and I think Gabby is starting to reap the rewards of

that. “Gabby is very quick of movement absolutely and he is

definitely looking sharp and strong.”