O'Neill desperate to strengthen in January

December 18, 2006

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has admitted he is currently in the dark about the exact amount of money he will be given to strengthen his squad in January.

O'Neill has frequently stressed the need to bring in new blood to supplement one of the smallest squads in the Premiership.

But the Irishman is still waiting to find out just how much cash new Villa owner Randy Lerner will make available, although the American has confirmed he will provide some financial backing.

O'Neill is searching far and wide for potential targets and is believed to have identified West Brom skipper Curtis Davies and Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley as two possibilities.

O'Neill said: 'We're hoping to strengthen because we just don't have the squad to deal with the demands of the second half of the season.

'I have not made a formal offer for anyone to be perfectly honest. I honestly don't know how much money I've got, but we're going to try to strengthen the squad.

'I want to strengthen a number of positions if we can. If it's possible, then we'll try to do it. It might not be possible, but if it's not then it will not be through lack of trying.

'Make no mistake about it, the players here have done terrifically. People can say we've not won in six matches but it's only three defeats in 18 games.

'It depends which way you want to look at it. Is the glass half full or half empty? But we do need to add players although that may be easier said than done.'

O'Neill is waiting for news on the fitness of key midfielder Gavin McCann, who was substituted at half-time against Bolton on Saturday because of a hamstring injury.

He could ill afford to be without McCann for the demanding festive schedule which includes matches with Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea.

O'Neill said: 'Gavin had a problem at half-time. His hamstring was very tight.

'There was no point in aggravating it at that stage and so we decided to have some discretion and take him off.

'We will see what it is like in the next two or three days. We would not want to lose him if at all possible.'

Villa have taken only four points out of a possible 18 to drop into ninth spot after being in the top six for most of the campaign.

But midfielder Stiliyan Petrov is confident their fortunes will improve if they maintain the form shown against Bolton.

He said: 'I don't think we deserved to lose at the weekend. We had so many chances and played very well. If we keep playing that way, we know we'll score goals and win games.

'We don't need to let our heads drop. We've had a few draws and maybe the games we're expected to win, we haven't won.

'But there's a long way to go and we just need to pick ourselves up.'