Routledge urged to take chance

O'Neill issues challenge to winger

Routledge: Challenged

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Martin O'Neill has challenged Wayne Routledge to prove he is worthy of a longer contract at Aston Villa.

Routledge joined Villa from Tottenham for £1.25million before last week's transfer deadline, but O'Neill only tied him to an 18-month deal.

The Villa boss has promised to review the winger's situation in the summer and extend his stay with the club if he makes an impression over the next four months.

"Wayne had got 18 months to run of his deal at Tottenham and, while I think he is very capable, at the same time I just didn't really want to imprison him here," O'Neill explained.

"He feels himself that 18 months is sufficient for him. We have come to a mutual agreement amongst ourselves and it is up to him.

"All he is looking for is a proper chance and I genuinely hope he gets it."

Starved

O'Neill has not had to make many changes to a settled side this season as he had few injuries to contend with, and he accepts that Routledge could find it difficult to break through.

"If people keep him out of the team for months and he is starved of football, it might mean we are doing pretty well and that is the way I hope it would be.

"But effectively there is an opportunity here for Wayne and, if he is doing well, I will be the first one in the summer to look at the situation again and say 'I'd love you here for the next three years'.

"It is a challenge but Wayne is really up for it. He has been pretty adamant about it and that is what I was looking for."