O’Neill challenges fringe players

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Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has told his first-team fringe players not to throw the towel in just yet.

Players like Steve Sidwell, Nicky Shorey, Nigel Reo-Coker and Habib Beye were believed to be frustrated at Villa Park last term as they drifted in and out of the team, but the Northern Irishman has reminded them of Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale.

The Spurs wing-back was famed for struggling to make an impact, but he went on to hit crucial winners in the side's games against Arsenal and Chelsea towards the end of last season.

He then scooped the club's young player of the year award as the Londoners qualified for the Champions League and now O'Neill is challenging his men to go and prove themselves in similar fashion.

Speaking to reporters, he said:"Look at how (Harry) Redknapp has gone and re-entrusted players again like Bale.

"He was out of the picture at Tottenham, then came back into the side and did brilliantly.

"That sort of thing happens at every club and I keep saying this to some of our players who have obviously been disappointed at not playing.

"It changes so quickly. You play really well in a game, you might get unlucky to be left out next time. But then, the second time, there's no reason to be left out and it just goes on from there."

"I think the players here last season did remarkably well. Let's take the example of James Milner. He went straight into the midfield and had a season never to forget.

"But that doesn't mean if another player steps in and does really well in the team, that he can't cement his place."

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