Carlos Cuellar is poised to make the first steps towards fulfilling his dream of playing for Spain.

The 27-year-old made a surprise £7.8million switch from Rangers to Aston Villa in a bid to gain international recognition and he has been lined up for a debut against Litex Lovech on Thursday.

A calf injury has delayed his bow until this UEFA Cup contest but Villa boss Martin O'Neill said ahead of the clash: "Carlos is a defender who has a little bit of ability. He can manoeuvre it. He also wants to come and head the ball. He is wiry more than anything else but is a real competitor."

He added: "I saw a lot of his games in European football for Rangers. From last Christmas onwards we really started taking an interest in him.

"Rangers going out of the Champions League probably made their minds up and this was a chance to get some of that lost revenue back for them.

"With money being so tight, perhaps it influenced them.

"There's always a concern in my mind that Martin Laursen can play all the games, given his past injury problems. Not that Carlos has come in here to think anything other than he will be playing.

"Carlos' ambition is to play for Spain. He voiced that when he joined us. He thinks he's capable of doing it. Only time will tell whether he will.

"But I think he has the potential to do that. Carles Puyol has become a permanent fixture for Barcelona and Spain for years. I think Carlos feels, at 27, he has the time to do so."

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#Internationals
#Football
#Carlos Cuellar
#Aston Villa