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O'Neill determined to build European tradition at Aston Villa

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill hopes to kickoff a tradition of regular European football as he prepares for tonight's UEFA Cup tie with Ajax.

He said: "Make no mistake, this is a big occasion for us. I am hoping this is the start of some really decent European nights for the foreseeable future at Aston Villa.

"We are guaranteed four games in the competition up until Christmas and we are going to try our utmost to qualify for the next phase of the competition.

"We don't want to experience such nights just this season. It is something that we do want to bring to the club long term and we feel we are really into the UEFA Cup now with the visit of someone like Ajax."

The spine of O'Neill's team boats plenty of European experience in the likes of John Carew, Stiliyan Petrov, Martin Laursen and Carlos Cuellar.

But he also knows European football will benefit the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young, who will hope doing well in Europe will improve their chances of breaking into the full England squad.

O'Neill said: "We want the younger players to experience these European nights but we should also not be wanting in terms of European experience.

"We have got plenty of that in the mature players like Petrov, Carew, Laursen and Cuellar but also a lot of the players have international experience they can draw upon."

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Tribal Football Staff

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