O'Leary wary of 'big trouble'
By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Aston Villa boss David O'Leary has bemoaned the defensive crisis afflicting his squad.
Aston Villa boss David O'Leary has bemoaned the defensive crisis afflicting his squad that has left him with just one centre back available to face Portsmouth on Saturday.
Villa are currently struggling at the wrong end of the table and could find themselves sucked into a relegation battle if their results drop off before the end of the season.
The visit of beleaguered Pompey has done little to lift the gloom around Villa Park as O'Leary must deal with a crippling absentee list when Harry Redknapp's side come to Birmingham.
With Mark Delaney suffering a knee injury and captain Olof Mellberg suspended the Villa boss was ready to throw youngster Gary Cahill in at the deep end, but incredibly he too has now been ruled out.
With just Liam Ridgewell fully fit O'Leary will be praying that Aaron Hughes comes through a late fitness test, although if he fails the former Leeds boss admits he will have run out of options.
"We're not in the greatest shape at the back, we've got no players really," O'Leary told Sky Sports News.
Cahill's not fit enough yet so he is untried. We probably would have tried him, sink or swim stuff, but he's not fit enough to be included in the squad.
"I've got one centre half, Liam Ridgewell, as simple as that.
"We've got to wait and see if Hughes will be fit to take some part in the game.
"We're in big trouble if he doesn't (pass a fitness test).
"I don't like leaving things until Saturday like getting preparations done.
"It's desperation with all the centre halves injured, I have to give Aaron every chance to come through a fitness test, probably at the ground tomorrow."
Off the field O'Leary has also had to deal with midfielder Lee Hendrie pleading guilty to common assault after an incident on August 21.
Hendrie was sentenced to 60 hours' community service in court, and was also reminded of his responsibilities as a player and role model by the Premiership club.