O'Neill - Cuellar feels at home
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill believes Carlos Cuellar has adapted to English football.
Last Updated: 18/12/09 3:46pm
Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has praised Carlos Cuellar and believes the centre-back is now displaying his best form after adapting to English football.
It has been suggested that the Spaniard has followed captain Stiliyan Petrov in taking time to settle following respective moves from Scottish sides Rangers and Celtic.
O'Neill believes the theory has substance and he has no doubt that Cuellar, a £5million buy in the summer of 2008, is now producing excellent displays.
"Last season Carlos came to us having had no pre-season whatsoever because of having been stop-start with injuries up at Rangers," said the Villa boss, who is preparing to host Stoke on Saturday.
"He played a lot of games for us at right-back last season as well, especially when Luke (Young) was out injured towards the end of the season.
"But he never complained and got on with it. He has adjusted and got used to the pace of the Premier League. Now we are seeing the best of him.
"He has gone into the middle of defence in recent weeks, with James Collins having been injured, which is his real position, and he is playing terrifically for us."
UEFA Champions League hopefuls Villa sit fourth in the Premier League and their lofty position has been built on the superb partnership of Cuellar and Richard Dunne in recent weeks.
But O'Neill admits that his side are approaching a vital stage in their season, with league meetings with Arsenal and Liverpool on the agenda plus a Carling Cup semi-final with Blackburn in early January.
He said: "When we beat Blackburn in February last season, we had got to 51 points from 25 games and that was fantastic. We've got a bit of a distance to go to get there.
"But the games we've got coming up between now and the New Year are big matches plus a couple of semi-final legs to look forward to in January.
"These games will give us a pointer to what the second half of the season holds."