O'Leary assures Ridgewell
By Simon Fudge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Aston Villa boss David O'Leary says Liam Ridgewell will remain in his starting XI.Aston Villa boss David O'Leary insists Liam Ridgewell will not be sacrificed for a fit-again Martin Laursen.
The former Leeds United manager says the 20-year-old will remain in his back four, as long as he maintains his form.
The Denmark international is nearing his recovery from a long-standing knee injury, but O'Leary has declared that all in-form players will remain in his starting XI.
"Liam has done alright," O'Leary said. "He's a long way to go yet, but it is down to him now. He is currently holding the position.
"There is not that much pressure on him at the moment because people aren't completely fit yet. But if he plays well, he'll stay in the team.
"At the moment, there is not a selection poser there because that department is picking itself, there is nobody else.
"People might say that I bring Laursen in because I paid £3 million for him and leaving Ridgewell out is the easy option.
"That's not the way I work. I work on having competition for places.
"If someone gets injured and are out of the side for a while and someone comes in and does well in their absence, they will stay in."
O'Leary added that the former Milan defender still needs some work on his fitness before making himself fully available again.
"What Laursen needs is fitness. He needs reserve games," the Irishman added.
"He's on the bench with the first team because we've nobody else to put on the bench who is a defender.
"We know we can use him if we have to, but he does need more reserve games to get really up to fitness."