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By ESPN Staff

O'Neill backing Bardsley to shine

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has revealed the 'hunger' of Phil Bardsley to make an impact in the Barclays Premiership after finding his path blocked at Manchester United by Gary Neville.

Right-back Bardsley has joined Villa on loan for the remainder of the season after the 21-year-old recently completed a temporary spell at Rangers.

He is expected to make his Villa debut in the home clash with Watford on January 20 although he will play for the reserves against Fulham tonight.

Bardsley will be ineligible to face the Red Devils in this weekend's league meeting at Old Trafford.

O'Neill, who wants to bring in several more new faces during January, said: 'I think Phil is very hungry to do well in the Premiership. He just wants that opportunity.

'Of course, at Manchester United there's the small matter of trying to get past Gary Neville in that right-back position - one of the best players around in that role for many years.

'Phil has the opportunity now to come and fight for his place in the team.

'I think he's prepared to do that. Nothing is cut and dried for him but he's one of those who's not had everything easy and he wants to battle.

'Anyone who's had their football schooling at Manchester United possesses quality but it's really his attitude that is absolutely top-class and is a big plus for us.

'We've got a lot of important games coming up and he's got from now until the end of May to try to prove himself.'

Bardsley said: 'I've had glimpses of the Premier League at United but I want to be playing regularly.

'It's quite frustrating when you're in and out of the side so it's great to have an opportunity to come to Villa and get a chance to play in the Premiership again.

'As every young lad will tell you, you just want to play football and I'm no different.

'It's also great to have the chance to work with Martin O'Neill. His CV speaks for itself and it's great to get this chance to work with him and his backroom staff. Hopefully I'll grab the chance with both hands.'

Bardsley's arrival is likely to allow former Villa skipper Olof Mellberg to revert to his preferred position at centre-back.