Sam ready for Villa trilogy
Sam Allardyce is hoping his Blackburn side can gain an important psychological edge over Aston Villa.
Last Updated: 31/12/09 2:35pm
Sam Allardyce is hoping his Blackburn side can gain an important psychological edge over Aston Villa when they meet on Saturday.
Rovers travel to Villa Park this weekend for their FA Cup third round clash, which acts as an intriguing prelude to the two-legged Carling Cup semi-final between the two clubs.
Allardyce has made no secret of the fact that his focus is the League Cup as Wembley is within touching distance for his troops, who dumped out Chelsea on penalties in the last round.
But even though he is expected to make changes for the weekend encounter, the former Bolton and Newcastle boss admits both he and counterpart Martin O'Neill will be looking to strike an important blow before Tuesday's first leg at Ewood Park.
"Certainly the priority this month is the semi-final of the Carling Cup, there is no danger about that," Allardyce said.
"To come this far with all the effort, particularly with the outstanding victory against Chelsea (in the quarter-final) - the top team in the country at the moment - means we have got a hugely difficult tie against Aston Villa in two semi-finals.
"But before that we have got a difficult tie against Villa in the (FA) Cup.
"Tactically from the manager's point of view you have to be looking at it and saying 'can we psyche each other out and what can we do to best prepare our players for these games?'.
"That is what we will try to do on Saturday and if we can get a bonus by coming away from Villa with a result it will give us a lot of confidence going into the game on Tuesday.
"It's a big few days for all the players and hopefully at the end of it we will be on a roll, looking up and excited about next playing Manchester City and then the return leg of the semi-final."
Allardyce was delighted to see Franco Di Santo extend his loan deal from Chelsea this week through to the end of the season and is hoping the young Argentine - who is now eligible for both domestic cup competitions - can start adding goals to his eye-catching performances.
"We are very pleased," Allardyce said. "There is Chelsea to be thankful for, (manager) Carlo Ancelotti and his staff for allowing it to happen and Franco himself, for telling Chelsea that he preferred to stay and play with us.
"I think that has been one of the key elements in why we have extended the loan and he feels that he has enjoyed his time here and has had games to play and develop.
"We all want him to continue in that way and the only thing that we hope for is that he produces a few more goals.
"I am very pleased with the performances - if he can just turn one or two more chances into goals then that means he will be even more successful in the back half of the season for us than he has been in the first."