O'Neill hopes Villa squad can handle busy December

O'Neill recognises that, with one of the smallest rotas in the Premier League, he has been fortunate in having only striker John Carew sustain a serious injury during the opening four months of the season - a knee problem which
sidelined the Norwegian international for seven weeks.

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But O'Neill knows it is vital to avoid a repeat of last season's catalogue of injuries around the same time of year before he is able to spend more of club owner Randy Lerner's millions during the transfer window.

He said: "We haven't got the largest squad and if you look at our list of players, a couple of them, Stephen O'Halloran and Moustapha Salifou, haven't kicked a ball for us.

"Even Gareth Southgate said last weekend when we played Middlesbrough that when he looked at our list of players on the back of the programme, it looked short.

"We have been lucky so far in being able to choose the same squad apart from John Carew. We have got a big, tough period now through until January.

"Last year when we picked up injuries at the same time we were not able to cope, did not have enough ability in the team and not enough confidence, so when we hit a bad period we were not able to get out of it.

"We have to cope and try to get through the next six or seven games but there is more ability in the squad now and there is a decent commitment within the squad.

"I have more than one thought in my head for January and we will want to try to strengthen. I have a fair idea of what I will need but these players have been fantastic."

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