O'Neill hopes for Baros boost

Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill is hoping Milan Baros can be brought up to full match sharpness while on international duty with the Czech Republic over the next 10 days.

Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill is hoping Milan Baros can be brought up to full match sharpness while on international duty with the Czech Republic over the next 10 days.

Baros is only now returning to first-team action after a foot injury while playing for his country during the World Cup finals in Germany.

But O’Neill believes the Euro 2008 qualifiers against San Marino next Saturday and the Republic of Ireland on October 11 will help bring Baros – last season’s top scorer for Villa with 12 goals – back up to speed.

O’Neill said: “I am not in a position to pick the international side and the Czech Republic coach will do what he considers the right thing for his side - but it would be terrific if Milan was to start in the games.

“If Milan comes out of those two games unscathed, it would be great for us. The benefit to us would be terrific.

“I am normally wary of players going away and playing two internationals in quick succession whereas this time it would be nice if Milan was involved.”

O’Neill has to date played with a lone central striker – the revitalised Juan Pablo Angel – with Luke Moore and Gabriel Agbonlahor providing support from the flanks.

But he is confident that Angel and Baros could work well together in a combination which was used sparingly by O’Neill’s predecessor David O’Leary last season.

O’Neill said: “Can Juan Pablo and Milan play together? I don’t see why not. They are two different types of player. Juan Pablo is a centre-forward in the old tradition.

“He is able to hold the ball up, link people into play, get into the penalty box and score a few goals. Baros is the sort of player who would play around him.”

Meanwhile, former Czech international Patrik Berger intends to force his way to the forefront of O’Neill's plans after months of injury frustration with knee and calf problems.

The former Liverpool and Portsmouth player was on the bench for Saturday’s impressive 1-1 draw at Chelsea which maintained Villa’s unbeaten record.

Berger said: “I started this season as I finished last season – with an injury – but I am now on the bench and it’s good for the moment.

“I am desperate to play but, after the year I’ve had, I’m just glad to be back involved. The lads have done superbly and it’s difficult for me to get into the side – but my time will come.”

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