Football

Aston Villa Vs Wigan Athletic, Sat 7 May 2011

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Gary McAllister insists Aston Villa do not need "major surgery" to their squad this summer for them to again become challengers for a European spot.

Villa's caretaker boss acknowledges that this season has been a disappointment after three successive top six finishes in the Barclays Premier League.

But McAllister is confident the midlands club can look forward with optimism once manager Gerard Houllier - currently recuperating from a heart problem - has had time to stamp his mark on the club.

McAllister, who will again be in charge for the home clash with Wigan, said: "We should be looking at the European positions and that goes without saying.

"Everything is here and set up for that. That has got to be the target.

"You can't necessarily jump from sixth, seventh, eighth right up to those top four places.

"Everyone has got to hold their hands up and say those top four spots are very hard to obtain these days.

"There are loads of factors coming into play to get this club to that level.

"But that next group of teams is where Aston Villa have got to be targeting themselves without a shadow of a doubt.

"Everything is here, it's equipped to do that, players, stadia, training facilities."

 
                         
 

 

Villa could lose the services of Ashley Young - believed to be a potential target for Manchester United - and out of contract Nigel Reo-Coker this summer.

But McAllister does not believe Villa require a radical overhaul of the current squad.

He said: "There has got to be time given to Gerard Houllier to get his philosophy into the club.

"To get that philosophy into the club, you've got to get a certain type of player.

"We've got good players here and it is not major surgery needed here, just a little tickle here and there.

"You might think at the moment we are miles away but I don't think that is the case."

Striker Emile Heskey is available after missing the 2-1 defeat at West Brom last weekend with a knee problem.

But midfielder Jean Makoun has still not fully recovered from a dead leg and will not be considered against the Latics.

Meanwhile, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has told his players they are in control of their own destiny and should seize the opportunity to get over what he believes could be a very significant hurdle.

With three matches remaining the Latics are still in the relegation zone but only because of a worse goal difference by one than Blackpool, who appear to have a much tougher run-in.

The Seasiders have been on the slide since the turn of the year, having begun their maiden Barclays Premier League campaign so brightly, whereas Wigan have always been looking up the table.

Martinez thinks surviving this season could be a watershed moment for his squad as he expects them to very quickly grow in stature.

"In a very strange way they need to enjoy this challenge because that is something which is going to help them progress in their careers," said the Spaniard.

"In this situation it is very difficult to enjoy the day-to-day because you care about the situation but it is important once the players are on the pitch they enjoy their football.

"If you don't enjoy your football you cannot be as good or as composed as you have to be.

"If they enjoy their football during the games we will achieve our aims, I have no doubt about that.

"It is challenges like this which allow you to be as good as you can.

"They need to see how much they can control the outcome of this challenge, that is very important, and they are ready to do that.

"This process is a very hard and tough one but it will allow us to improve a lot quicker.

"The moment we are successful in this challenge is when everyone will kick on and gain the rewards of this fight and pressure situation.

"The whole season we have been in this situation and I don't like to look back for excuses.

"This season was about making sure we achieved our aim, which was another successful season for the club and staying in the Premier League.

"We have three games to achieve that."

Midfielders Charles N'Zogbia and Mohamed Diame are Wigan's two injury worries ahead of tomorrow's trip to Aston Villa.

N'Zogbia sustained a dead leg in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Everton but indications suggest he will recover in time.

Diame was forced off against the Toffees with a groin problem but will be given as long as possible to prove his fitness.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Wigan Athletic
Aston Villa
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