O'Neill wary of Hammers test

Villa boss prepared for trip to East London

O'Neill: Hammers test

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Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has warned his side to be wary of West Ham when they clash at Upton Park.

Villa travel to East London on Wednesday knowing a win will put them fourth in the Premier League, while the Hammers are languishing in 19th with just seven points from 10 games.

Gianfranco Zola's side surrendered a two-goal lead against 10-man Sunderland at the weekend, but O'Neill insists his Villa side should not underestimate their opponents.

"Am I surprised by the start they have made? I would have expected them to have more points," he said.

"I have seen them quite a few times this season. I was obviously looking when there was a possibility that James Collins would be available so I saw them early season.

"I might have seen West Ham four times this season against Tottenham, Blackburn, Manchester City and Arsenal.

"I would think they should have more points on the board but I thought their fightback against Arsenal was fantastic.

"So back at Upton Park I would expect them to be a really tough test."


O'Neill could recall striker John Carew to the starting line-up after he came off the bench at Goodison Park to grab Villa's equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Everton last weekend.

It was the Norwegian's first league goal of the season and his manager hopes he can build on that and add to his tally.

"That goal will do John the world of good," O'Neill added. "I just think getting goals for a centre forward is brilliant news."

However, O'Neill does have some selection problems for the clash as right-back Carlos Cuellar is suspended after being sent-off at Everton, while midfielders Stiliyan Petrov (shin) and James Milner (calf) are doubts.

"Stiliyan is sore. I will give him every opportunity to recover but James is extremely doubtful," he said.

"He was feeling very tight after last week's Carling Cup tie at Sunderland. It seemed to recur and it was hindering in the first-half at Everton.

"Hopefully with the strength in depth that we have players can come in and do well.

"But being without Stiliyan and James would be a serious loss to our midfield."