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By ESPN Staff
Sep 25, 2006

'Top six finish for Villa? No chance' - O'Neill

Martin O'Neill has insisted Aston Villa are not serious contenders to finish in the top six of The Premiership this season despite their six-game unbeaten start.

O'Neill has transformed the fortunes of Villa since replacing David O'Leary last month and 12 points from the opening six games - their best start since 1998 - have lifted the midlands club into fifth spot after the weekend games.

But the former Celtic boss has his feet firmly on the ground and points to the size of his current squad as one reason why it will be difficult to remain among the front-runners for the next eight months.

O'Neill, whose side visit champions Chelsea on Saturday, said: 'Do I think it is possible we can finish in top six? Not at all. There are moments in games where we are absolutely fine and there are moments in the game where we are a bit uncomfortable.

'First of all I'd be concerned at the size of the squad we have. Sometimes I look at the names on the back of the match programmes and see other clubs with a more extensive list of players.

'It doesn't matter. We have what we have. The major players need to stay fit up until January at least.

'That it is why is was so encouraging for Gavin McCann to come through from being injured against Scunthorpe on Wednesday night to play against Charlton on Saturday because you sometimes fear the worst.

'It was a lovely afternoon on Saturday, things are going great at the moment but we are a long way short of that (finishing in the top six).'

O'Neill added: 'The players have done very well indeed but we are going to hit a period where we can't get a result and that's going to happen and perhaps then that will be the real test for us but at the moment I'm very pleased.

'I can't do anything about the expectations but eventually we will find our level. We know that ourselves. There are a couple of hammerings around the corner. We have to take it and deal with it when it comes.

'But we are enjoying it at the moment and the players have been excellent. You can still be excellent in defeat. It depends how you get beaten.'