Villa boosted by return of Berger and Laursen

July 16, 2006

Steven Davis believes Aston Villa have been given a pre-season lift by the return to fitness of Martin Laursen and Patrik Berger.

Danish defender Laursen and Czech midfielder Berger made just 10 appearances between them last season, with Laursen sidelined after just one game.

But the pair returned for pre-season training last week and Davis told the club's website www.avfc.co.uk: 'They missed most of last season through injury but they're quality players and it is a boost to have them back.

'We need that competition. It pushes every player and it can only be good for the squad.'

Northern Ireland midfielder Davis is hoping Villa can make a flying start to the new campaign even though it starts against Arsenal in their first Premiership match at the Emirates Stadium.

'We start with what is obviously a tough game but we just have to prepare right, get down there and do our best.

'After that we've got two home games (against Reading and Newcastle) and we know we have to improve on the poor home record last season. We need to show we mean business early on.'