O'Neill ready to shuffle Villa pack

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Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill will freshen up his team with fringe men during the upcoming hectic run of big matches if he senses any tiredness in the ranks.

O'Neill has tended to keep faith with the same nucleus in recent weeks and named an unchanged side for the last four Barclays Premier League games - all of which have ended in victories. But the former Celtic manager knows the heavy workload ahead means he will have to utilise his entire squad.

"To go to Manchester United and win, then travel to Sunderland last midweek and win there, and then beat Stoke at home on Saturday was great because we've gone in with the same team and subs each time," said O'Neill. "I have really good faith in the players. The players want to play for a start. Imagine asking (James) Milner if he wants to rest up for Arsenal, he wouldn't have it!"

He added: "The same would apply to Ashley Young or any of the players.

"But we have one or two fresh players around and this programme between now and the end of the calendar year, never mind the games we go into immediately in January, is definitely something to look at.

"It is a big period for us and I am quite sure we will utilise the players in that period.

"I don't want to be making promises that I'm unable to keep but I think we will be able to change a few things.

"You will get players still telling you that they are fine but there's still that bit of tiredness. You take each case on its own merits and then you make some decisions on it.

"I am sure it will be pretty difficult for the team to keep going in the manner they have been doing.

"In any case, I bet one or two things will be enforced on us with injuries and suspensions. For example, no-one would have foreseen last year that Martin Laursen would only play one more game for us after Christmas before having to retire. It can happen, in fact it will happen. Then we will see how we cope."

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Stoke City
Premier League
Manchester United
Ashley Young
Aston Villa

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