Aston Villa v Manchester United, Wed 10 Feb 2010

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Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey is struggling to be fit for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United.

Heskey suffered a groin injury during Saturday's goalless draw at Tottenham and, although a scan revealed no major damage, Villa boss Martin O'Neill rates the England striker "doubtful" to face the Red Devils even though he is included in the squad.

John Carew could replace Heskey in the starting line-up after recovering from a knee problem and coming on as a substitute at White Hart Lane. Left-back Stephen Warnock (ankle) is still unavailable as Villa attempt to complete their first league double over United for 55 years.

And O'Neill will be content for his side to adapt a cautious approach against United.

He added: "We will be very dangerous on the counter-attack and United themselves won championships based on counter-attacking football.

"There was nothing wrong with that when they had the players to do so.

"It is not a case of us hanging around our own penalty area waiting for some things to happen on the break. We might be forced back in the game but I also think we are capable of taking the game to Manchester United."

Veteran duo Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are set for recalls as Manchester United look to maintain their Premier League title push.

The pair did not even make the bench for Saturday's 5-0 demolition of Portsmouth, which suggests they will face Martin O'Neill's men.

Rio Ferdinand is suspended, while Nemanja Vidic has an outside chance of being involved for the first time this year after suffering a nerve problem in his leg last month.

James Milner, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young have all caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson at various times, although, with their strengths so obviously in counter-attacking, there is still a belief they will come up short in the battle for fourth, which Ferguson for one finds so intriguing.

"There is a consistent vein about Villa," said the United boss. "There are no dramatic changes with them.

"You get the odd bad result but we are all getting them this season, and they had that great performance against us. They were very determined that day.

"It is easy to see them getting to fourth place but you could say the same thing about a few others as well.

"It is very interesting, possibly the most competitive part of the league because it is so important to get that fourth position and to be in the Champions League."

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

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Ryan Giggs
Gabriel Agbonlahor
James Milner
John Carew
Emile Heskey
Premier League
Manchester United
Nemanja Vidic
Ashley Young
Paul Scholes
Stephen Warnock
Aston Villa
Rio Ferdinand

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