O'Neill laments cup loss

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Martin O'Neill was ruing a missed opportunity after his Aston Villa side slumped to a 1-0 Carling Cup defeat at the hands of QPR.

The Villa boss had targeted the competition as a possible source of silverware and demonstrated his intentions by naming a handful of frontline stars in his starting XI.

But it was Rangers defender Damion Stewart who was the star as he headed the Coca-Cola Championship side into the fourth round and O'Neill said: "We put enough into the game to win it. It's a wasted opportunity."

He added: "When the match is in the balance and you don't take your chances there's always a possibility you might concede and we did.

"We were beaten in the game but if we had been played off the park it would have been a different issue.

"It's naturally disappointing to go out of the competition and not to be in the hat for the next round is really frustrating."

O'Neill was less concerned by the significance - or lack of it - in his decision to hand Gareth Barry the captain's armband for the first time since his flirtation with Liverpool in the summer.

Nevertheless, his restoration as skipper - albeit in Martin Laursen's absence - seems to be final proof that relations between the pair are back on track after the midfielder's dream move to Anfield fell through.

"It's nothing. In the scheme of things it's really unimportant," he said of the decision.

"I'm more disappointed about losing the game so the captaincy is not the thing. I was more than pleased to give it to Gareth and he was more than pleased to get it."

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League Cup
Gareth Barry
Damion Stewart
Queens Park Rangers
Aston Villa

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