O'Neill issues January warning
By Lewis Rutledge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Martin O'Neill has told his players that he will be making key decisions in the New Year.
Martin O'Neill has warned his underperforming Aston Villa players to show their best form before the end of the year.
O'Neill is keen to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window but is also contemplating the futures of players within his squad.
He has assured players that he will not be making any decisions until the New Year, but wants to see a response from certain individuals.
"I want another two months of football before I start to make a genuine and concerted judgment on the players here, and that's on players who have played pretty often," O'Neill told the Birmingham Mail.
"You can imagine how less informed I'd be on those who have played less. Once I make my mind up I may stick with it but at the moment I'm deliberating."
Milan Baros has made a slow start to the season after returning from injury, and has failed to score in nine appearances.
O'Neill admits the Czech Republic international is struggling for confidence, but is hoping he can bounce back in the next few weeks.
"The confidence element of football is so, so important," the Irishman commented. "Some confidence in players can be very strong, and in other cases it can be less so.
"With some people it can be very brittle. I remember as a player if you started a game brightly and got early touches, and if you were lucky enough to score a goal or make a goal, you were flying.
"Milan came in when the side was going okay after not being able to get into the starting line-up, then Luke Moore got injured and Milan got a chance."
O'Neill also highlighted the difficulty he could have in giving Baros more time against Blackburn on Sunday, while at the same time picking the right team to win the game.
"In truth, he is short of what I would call serious match-play fitness. But then again, how do you get there? You'd be hoping that there would be much more to his game when he gets that," he explained.
"But as a manager I have a duty to win some football games, incorporating all of those aspects at the same time."
Midfielder Steven Davis was dropped to the bench against Liverpool last week, but O'Neill has assured him that he remains very much part of his plans.
"Steven had played all the games so far and by his own admission he hadn't reached the heights of last season," he said.
"But there are opportunities there for all and sitting out a game or two I don't think does anyone any harm at all.
"He was left out, or was substitute, in a game or two last season. I'm not so sure Steven or anyone would take it as a sleight.
"I'm sure he would want to get back to the form he displayed last season as quickly as possible."