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MacDonald: Competition is hotting up
Kevin MacDonald challenges returning stars to play their way back into contention.
17th Aug 2010
MacDonald: Competition is hotting up


By Dan Harrison

Kevin MacDonald has challenged Villa's returning stars to force their way into contention for the Europa League play-off first leg against Rapid Vienna.

The caretaker boss admits he is considering handing chances to several players who were not involved in the 3-0 victory over West Ham.

A barnstorming opening day performance has ensured competition in the Villa squad is hotting up, particularly with young players like Marc Albrighton and Ciaran Clark making the most of their opportunities.

In addition, reserve youngsters Barry Bannan, Andreas Weimann and Eric Lichaj also played their way into the senior squad.

With the likes of injured quartet James Collins, Carlos Cuellar, Curtis Davies and Steve Sidwell hoping to return, along with strikers Gabby Agbonlahor and Nathan Delfouneso, MacDonald could have a healthy number of players at his disposal.

However, he has warned the absentees must prove they are worthy of a recall for Thursday night's clash at the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium.

MacDonald told AVTV: "One or two of the squad players who weren't here against West Ham might get a chance on Thursday.

"It is going to be up to them to show they are either as good as the ones that played or as good as the youngsters they know are coming in.

"I think that is the big thing - one or two of the youngsters are starting to show their ability and some of the senior players are starting to get a bit nervous."

After guiding Villa to an emphatic opening day win on his debut in the hotseat, MacDonald was quick to shift his thoughts towards preparing for the trip to Austria.

He said qualification for the group stages would be a big boost for the team and could provide further opportunities for the younger players to flourish.

The claret and blues hope to avenge last season's away goals defeat at the same stage of the competition against Rapid Vienna.

The caretaker boss added: "We'll go again and set things up for Thursday and hopefully we'll get the right result.

"We owe them one from last year and it would great for us to try and qualify for the group stage, which would give us more games to maybe blood the youngsters and give them experience."


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