Villa boss O'Neill: I haven't forgotten Osbourne

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill insists he hasn't forgotten young midfielder Isaiah Osbourne.

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He told Villa's website: "He's done excellently in training and I haven't even remotely thought about laying any blame at Isaiah's door.

"Isaiah was excellent against Wrexham in the Carling Cup and he's definitely improving as a player.

"He's a much better player than he was last season and he's making really good progress. I can see him making really good strides this season."

He added: "He was asked to play in some really major games last winter and he did absolutely fine. That experience has improved him.

"When you've played in such games against that quality of opposition, then it should only get easier after that. "Isaiah has got a lot of potential. Of course, young players have ups and downs - that's only to be expected when he's learning his trade.

"But his whole approach to the game is so refreshing. He can pass it and he can run with it.

"He's got really good natural ability and it's encouraging. He'll give some sloppy passes away but most of the time he's looking to play the right ball and he's been excellent. He says his hero is Patrick Vieira - and that's not a bad person to aspire to!"

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