St. Andrews Ground
By Paul Brown
Stewart Downing is ready and willing to step forward if this evening's Carling Cup quarter-final against Birmingham City goes to penalties.
Downing's extra-time winner ensured that spot-kicks were not required in the fourth round tie at home to Burnley.
But he and his team-mates are aware that a shoot-out may well be required to settle the issue at St Andrew's, particularly after the recent Second City derby at Villa Park finished as a goalless stalemate.
"We didn't discuss penalties before the Burnley game because the manager felt we could win in 90 minutes," he said.
"But if this game goes to penalties, we have the players to step up and take them - and I would certainly be willing to take one."
Downing didn't have to worry about penalties in the Burnley game, his superb left-foot shot from the edge of the area giving Villa a 2-1 verdict over Championship outfit.
But he knows he might well have had to answer to Marc Albrighton if his shot hadn't gone in.
"Running towards the defender, I thought I was going to slip Marc in on the right," he explained.
"But as he moved in that direction I decided to check back and that gave me half a yard to get a shot in.
"I'm sure Marc would have gone mad if I'd missed, but I thought it was worth taking a chance and it paid off. It was a good strike - when you hit the ball cleanly there's always a chance it will go in because the ball moves a lot in the air."
Now Downing has his sights on the semi-finals and, hopefully, a return trip to Wembley in February.
He added: "After losing in the final last season - particularly in the way we did - it would be nice to go back and win it this time."