Football

O'Neill shuffles pack

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Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has left seven of his regular first-team players out of the squad for Thursday's UEFA Cup second-leg trip to CSKA Moscow.

Stand-in skipper Gareth Barry, Brad Friedel, Emile Heskey, Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Carlos Cuellar and Stiliyan Petrov are all excluded from the 19-man party announced on Tuesday by the former Celtic boss.

Luke Young, Curtis Davies, Zat Knight and John Carew are amongst the few experienced players in the squad.

Youngsters such as Elliott Parish, Eric Lichaj, Ciaran Clark, Shane Lowry, Barry Bannan and Mark Albrighton are included.

O'Neill has made it clear that securing a Champions League spot via a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League is his priority.

He said: "We have a couple of players carrying injuries and a couple of others who I believe need resting for the important final third of the season."

Cuellar has been troubled by a hamstring injury and O'Neill indicated at the weekend he would not travel for fear of making the problem worse on a plastic pitch.

Heskey only returned to action against Chelsea at the weekend after aggravating an Achilles injury while on England duty in Spain.

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Topics:
Europa League
European News
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Football
John Carew
Stiliyan Petrov
Gareth Barry
Emile Heskey
Chelsea
Zat Knight
Premier League
Shane Lowry
Carlos Cuellar
Luke Young
UEFA Champions League
Ashley Young
Brad Friedel
Curtis Davies
Aston Villa
Ciaran Clark
Barry Bannan
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