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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

'Theatrical falls killing the game' - Reo-Coker

Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker has hit out at the increased play-acting in British football.

The former England Under-21 captain has already accumulated eight bookings and a sending-off during the current campaign, and admits he needs to improve his disciplinary record.

But he also feels the over-the-top reaction from players to challenges is not helping his cause.

Reo-Coker told: 'The manager (Martin O'Neill) is helping me develop as a player. He's making me think a lot more about my game. He wants me to develop my discipline, so I'm working on that.

'I'm used to getting bookings. It happens in games when you play where I play in the middle and I won't be changing my overall approach to the game. But I try to take on board what the manager is saying.

'I'll continue to be very passionate and committed but I think there are a lot more theatrical falls now and that's killing the game.

'Players are getting booked for nothing. It's not even a man's game at times. You can't really get physical any more.

'I thought football was a physical game but now, if you slightly touch a player, they go down and do 20 rolls and a back-flip to get you cautioned.'

O'Neill wants Reo-Coker to channel his aggression in the right direction during the final third of the campaign.

He said: 'As well as people being able to play, we need some controlled aggression in the team. I wouldn't want any players involved in serious foul play or anything like that.

'But we need proper aggression. There's a difference between controlled aggression and losing your head.'

Meanwhile, West Brom are understood to be interested in taking Villa striker Luke Moore on loan for the rest of the season.

Moore has made it clear he wants to leave Villa after declining a new contract offer before Christmas.

He has 16 months left of his current deal after Villa decided to take up a one year option on his services.

Moore was a target for Rangers during the January transfer window but a £3.5million move never materialised.

The England Under-21 international has fallen behind Gabriel Agbonlahor, John Carew, Marlon Harewood and Shaun Maloney in the pecking order at Villa and has not started a game since the clash with Tottenham on New Year's Day.