carling cup preview

Young: Carling Cup is Champions League back-up

January 5, 2010

Luke Young insists Aston Villa's main priority is to secure a Champions League spot but is eyeing the Carling Cup as another possible route into Europe ahead of the semi-final clash with Blackburn.

And the defender would dearly love to at long last appear in a major final after being an unused substitute when Tottenham beat Leicester - managed by current Villa boss Martin O'Neill - in the 1999 final.

Villa head to Ewood Park for the first leg, having overcome Sam Allardyce's side 3-1 in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Young said: "Our main priority is trying to get into the Champions League. There is no point in not having a go at it and we have done well during the first half of the season.

"That is our first aim but, if we don't do that, the Carling Cup can be another route into Europe. The competition has still got a lot of gloss. It's so difficult to win a competition in this country.

"The big four tend to win everything so to get to any final is a massive occasion and I'm sure the fans will see it that way if we can get to Wembley. I've never played in a major final. I sat on the bench in the League Cup when I was 19 with Spurs after I played in a couple of the earlier rounds.

"Justin Edinburgh was sent off but we went on to beat Leicester 1-0 with a late goal. For me, it wasn't so much missing out, I was just pleased to be there. At that stage I had only played 10-12 games for Spurs so it was all new and exciting.

"I didn't realise it would take 10 years to get there again - if we can get past Blackburn. You know when you play Blackburn that is part and parcel of their game. They've got a lot of skill as well. They are not just a tough side who go long ball all the time.

"They have a few flair players in there as well who can cause us damage. You know what you're coming up against when you face a Sam Allardyce team but we can cope with that.''

O'Neill is hoping striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and midfielder James Milner will have recovered from illness and injury respectively after missing the FA Cup clash.

The likes of Young, central defender Richard Dunne and skipper and midfield general Stiliyan Petrov are expected to return after being rested at the weekend when both sides fielded much-changed line-ups.