O’Neill reveals Premier League snub

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 as many games as anyone else as a Premier

League in the last two months, with replays and League Cup

semi-finals, we asked the Premier League for a bit of help. “We

asked if we could stretch things out a little for when the weather

gets a bit better and we could play some re-arranged games in

April. “With the worse scenario, even if we got through the Reading

tie after a replay and had to change the date of the Everton league

game, there was still time in April to fit things in. “But the

Premier League want to get the fixtures in during March so we’ve

got plenty of 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 as they look to bounce

back from their Carling Cup final loss against Manchester United.

The Royals will be aiming for a third Premier League scalp in the

competition, having already overcome Liverpool and Burnley. O’Neill

said: “Reading have done very well. Brian McDermott has stepped in

there as manager and revitalised them. “I think the game itself

will be very difficult, as every bit as difficult, if not more,

than against Crystal Palace in the last round. You saw how

difficult that tie was for us. “But, if ever there was an incentive

to get back to Wembley again, last Sunday should be it. There was

disappointment at the time and it is exactly the same feeling

today.” Central defender Richard Dunne should be fit after missing

the Republic Of Ireland’s friendly with Brazil in midweek with a

leg injury.