Writer: Mike Field
Date:Thursday September 17 2009
Martin O'Neill has backed Carlos Cuellar to become a real star for Villa this season, even if he's playing right back.
Speaking to Lisa Smith of the Birmingham Mail, Martin O'Neill was full of praise for Cuellar after his Man of the Match performance against Blues last weekend.
Cuellar hasn't had it easy since his £7.8 million move from Scottish giants Rangers 13 months ago. His early Villa career was blighted with niggling injuries and he struggled in pre season. When he did get into the first team he was more often than not 'uncomfortable' and his aclimatisation to the Premiership wasn't helped with stints at right back as he was trying to find his feet.
For O'Neill this wasn't really an issue at all as he kept faith with Cuellar and has since described him as 'brave' with a 'big, big heart.'
Carlos' fortunes have changed somewhat this season though with sterling performances in our pre season Peace Cup tour which won over many of his critics. We finally saw the rock solid, well timing tackler that Rangers fans has told us about.
Since then, apart from a few blips, he's slowly going from strength to strength, leaving many to believe his performance at right back against Blues is potentially his best performance for us yet.
Anyway, Monny praised better than I do, and he still thinks there's far more to come from the Spaniard.
'Carlos is brave and he is aggressive. In time I think he will become a better user of the ball. I like his qualities and I always have done.'
O'Neill continued to explain that Cuellar doesn't grumble when asked to play on the right, as far as he's concerned it means he gets another game and that's fine in his book.
Monny also indicated that Carlos could be spending a fair bit of time out on the right since the arrival of Dunne and Collins, by adding:
'He is essentially at centre back but he will soon get to know the way the other two lads play.'
Either that or over time we will see a revamped wing back system, with 3 in the middle?
The jury for some is still out on Cuellar but as long as he keeps improving very few will grumble, and while Monny can't find fault with his determination, and application he's unlikely to be disappearing from the squad just yet.
Date:Thursday September 17 2009
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