O'Neill explains full-back axe
Martin O'Neill has played down the significance of his decision to drop Luke Young and Nicky Shorey.
Last Updated: 19/10/08 5:59pm
Martin O'Neill has played down the significance of his decision to drop Luke Young and Nicky Shorey for Aston Villa's 0-0 draw with Portsmouth.
Villa had fielded an unchanged team in their opening seven Premier League games of the season, but Young and Shorey were demoted to the bench for Saturday's fixture.
O'Neill picked summer signing Carlos Cuellar at right-back, with Gareth Barry reverting to left-back after James Milner was brought into midfield.
However, the Villa boss insists there were no major reasons behind his decision to leave Young and Shorey out of his starting line-up.
"I left out Luke Young and Nicky Shorey, but there is nothing fantastic to read into it," said O'Neill.
"I was concerned, as a lot of managers, about how the players would be like when they came back from international duty.
"We only met up on Friday morning for a brief spell and, while all the players want to play, I didn't know how long they might last in the game.
"For instance, John Carew was suffering with cramps a lot before the game, but he came through and started to get stronger.
"One player I was concerned about, Stiliyan Petrov - who played two internationals for Bulgaria and was in Georgia on Wednesday - was the best player on the pitch.
"We've got players available for Thursday for the Uefa Cup (against Ajax) now and it is no slight on anyone.
"I have been pleased with both full-backs. They are trying to get to grips. They have had no chance whatsoever to settle in. But overall they will be fine, the two lads. There is not a problem."