Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill was full of praise for Nigel Reo-Coker after his performance on Saturday at Newcastle.

O'Neill ended Reo-Coker's West Ham nightmare with an £8.5million swoop in the summer and he believes the midfielder has the ability to battle for a place in Steve McClaren's set-up.

O'Neill said: "Obviously Nigel is contesting a midfield that is one of the strongest in Europe. You're talking about (Steven) Gerrard, (Frank) Lampard and (Owen) Hargreaves - but Nigel has the ability to play in that side.

"He is a splendid player who wants to do so much for us. He wants to get forward and join in the attack. He has given something extra in central midfield that we didn't possess last season."