Petrov hopes for reinforcements
Skipper Stiliyan Petrov has confidence in Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill to bring in more signings before the transfer window closes and boost the club's chances of glory on domestic and European fronts.
Petrov is aware Villa will have more games to play in the restructured Europa League this season should they overcome Rapid Vienna in the qualifying play-offs, starting with tomorrow's away leg.
O'Neill upset a section of fans last season when he sent a shadow squad to the last 32 clash away to CSKA Moscow as a UEFA Champions League place beckoned via the Barclays Premier League. However, that move backfired, with Villa eventually finishing sixth, and Petrov knows they must have more strength in depth this season if they are to challenge in all competitions.
The Bulgaria international said: "This season you will be playing double headers. Every team you will play twice in the group stages, like in the Champions League, so it will be more games.
"That's why the manager is trying to make sure we have enough players to cope with this year in domestic cup games, Europe and the Premier League as well. Other teams in Europe have big squads and we must do that as well. I think before the window shuts we will have a few more signings. I hope so."
Villa fielded only 17 players - less than any other side - in the Premier League last season to highlight their lack of strength in depth. They will be favourites to overcome the Austrian side, but Petrov is aware of the need for his side to fire on all cylinders if they are to progress.
The Midlands club were booed off the pitch after being beaten 2-0 at home by Wigan in their opening league game at the weekend. Petrov said: "Rapid are a young side and they play good football. We could have been paired with an even stronger side in the qualifying round so it is a good draw.
"But we still need to go and play well because now in football it's not getting easier. It's getting harder and harder. All the teams are fit, all the teams are prepared and we will definitely have two difficult games against Rapid. But if we want to go into the group stages, we have to beat them and it doesn't matter what it takes to do that."
Petrov, who reached the 2004 UEFA Cup final with Celtic, is unconcerned Villa are away in the first leg. He said: "I don't think it matters what order we play the games in because some teams are better away than at home and it's the other way round for some others. We have to have that consistency to get the maximum from the two games."
O'Neill has named a full-strength squad and included all his big name players including John Carew, Emile Heskey, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and James Milner in a 22-strong party. Villa will have more time than normal to recover from their European exertions as they do not face Liverpool until Monday night at Anfield in their next league clash.
O'Neill will be hoping Carew has recovered from the foot injury which saw him make a late withdrawal from Saturday's home encounter with Wigan, which Villa lost 2-0. O'Neill also confirmed that right-back Luke Young is on "compassionate leave" following the death of his half brother Andrew. Andrew died after suffering head injuries when on holiday at the resort of Malia in Greece.
O'Neill has given former England defender Luke as much time away from Villa as he needs to overcome the loss. The former Celtic boss said: "I'll give Luke all the time he needs, obviously. It's painful, devastating, sad and he's asked for a little bit of time and I've absolutely given it to him.
"This is his brother. I know it's his half brother but I think they were pretty close. It puts things into perspective. He came in the other day to do a little bit of work just to try and get his mind off things and I think it's devastating. It will take time. I don't think you can compare it to anything else. When he's ready to come we'll be delighted to see him."
Young has not been included in the squad for tomorrow night's Europa League clash away to Rapid Vienna.