Aston Villa Vs West Ham, Sun 17 Jan 2010

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Aston Villa are set to recall goalkeeper Brad Friedel for Sunday's Premier League clash against West Ham at Villa Park.

Friedel was on the bench for Villa's Carling Cup semi-final first leg win against Blackburn on Thursday.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill has used Brad Guzan for Villa's Cup games this season but Friedel has been an ever-present in the Barclays Premier League.

O'Neill also looks poised to recall right-back Luke Young who was also on the bench for the 1-0 victory at Ewood Park.

Carlos Cuellar is set to return to the centre of defence in place of James Collins after he played at right-back against Rovers.

O'Neill does not think the Hammers' off-field issues will have any effect on their players.

He added: "The game against West Ham is naturally difficult for us.

"They will come to Villa Park and play strongly. The off-the-field goings on at the moment will not affect their players."

O'Neill is an admirer of West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola.

He said: "Zola has been a really great player and he is coping with things magnificently in management.

"These things are set to try him out and he is going along very well. This is why West Ham will be strong on the day."

O'Neill is looking for Villa to build upon their 1-0 win at Blackburn as he prepares his team for three games in six days.

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola has no senior strikers available after Guillermo Franco was injured in training.

Carlton Cole, Luis Boa Morte and Kieron Dyer are still sidelined with knee injuries, leaving West Ham's options limited to teenagers Frank Nouble and Freddie Sears.

Zola hopes to have Scott Parker back from a hamstring injury while Mark Noble is fit again - but Herita Ilunga and Danny Gabbidon are both out.

Zola has admitted he has had doubts over his ability to save the club from relegation.

The rookie manager has found the job at Upton Park much tougher than he expected when he arrived to replace Alan Curbishley last season.

West Ham head to Aston Villa on Sunday just one place outside the relegation zone and with uncertainty hanging in the air as the debt-ridden club attempt to find a new owner.

Zola's own future remains unclear following reports in Italy that he will be sacked if one of the interested parties, the Cagliari president Massimo Cellini, succeeds with his #100million bid.

Despite all that, Zola's determination remains unbroken.

"I am going to fight," the Italian vowed.

"It is normal that when things are not going in the right direction you doubt what you are doing.

"But then I go back in my history and I say: `Franco, you have been in so many difficult situations' and I have always come through and I rely on that.

"No matter what comes against me, I am going to come through and bounce back. I have no doubt.

"In this job, there are so many things that you need to look after and be good at. Sometimes I have doubted the tactical side, sometimes the psychology.

"I keep adjusting and getting better and better. I want to be top in this job that is for sure. I work on every aspect of the game and one day I will be like that.

"This job has proved to be much more than I expected. I have to push myself and the players to do the best we can in the situation.

"If we get through we will better players and managers. What can I do? I'm not going to bang my head against the wall because of that. I am going to fight."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Premier League
Aston Villa
West Ham United

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