O’Neill buoyant about Villa build-up

The majority of the Villa squad reported back for duty on Thursday,

just over five weeks before the first match of the new Premier

League season at home to Avram Grant’s West Ham. O’Neill told the

club’s official website: “The first day back, I think as a player

it was never a day you looked forward to because in olden days you

were thrown straight into it. By the end of your double session,

morning and afternoon, you were feeling really tired. “I was never

sure that did much good. Now in the modern day, there are supposed

to be more scientific approaches to pre-season training. I think

the players will appreciate a steadier climb into things. But as

for myself and the backroom staff, we are pleased to be back. “I

think now, also, players keep themselves in better condition during

the summer break whereas before, way back, that wouldn’t have been

the case. Overall that sort of general fitness doesn’t seem to

leave you, particularly if you are in your mid-20s. “They seem in

pretty good order. Obviously players here will come back – people

who have thought about last season and thought about their own game

and how well they did – and in the case of some others what they

would have to do to play more regularly in the side. “We will just

have a general review of things together in the next couple of

days. But really it is about going forward from here onwards and I

think it is a pre-season to look forward to.”