Laursen wary of Russia trip

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Aston Villa skipper Martin Laursen admits the prospect of a February trip to Russia is a daunting one after the club were drawn against CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Cup.

Villa have the possibility of a clash against Tottenham if they get through the last-32 round. Tottenham have equally testing opponents from eastern Europe - Shakhtar Donetsk of the Ukraine - while Manchester City's task appears more straightforward against Danish side FC Copenhagen.

CSKA won the competition in 2005 and Laursen admitted: "The first thought was 'It is not the best to have to travel to Russia at the end of February'."

He added: "I've been told it is a plastic pitch but I am sure we will make the necessary preparations.

"But we have no need to fear anyone. We have a good chance to beat Moscow."

Tottenham's opponents look similarly challenging - Shakhtar have dropped down from the Champions League where they finished third in their group, but achieved decent results including a 3-2 victory over Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes insisted his team also face strong opponents.

Hughes said: "They are all tough games at this stage of the competition but they will be going into the game on the back of their mid-winter break so maybe we can take advantage of that fact.

"It's one of the tougher draws we could have had from the teams available to us, but we did what we needed to do to avoid teams like AC Milan and Valencia and that was top the group, so we're pleased with that."

Should City progress past Copenhagen they could face further Danish opposition after they were drawn to play either Aalborg or Deportivo La Coruna in the round of 16.

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