There may be a few bleary eyes in the Aston Villa dressing room but defender Curtis Davies has vowed they will all be wide awake and switched on when Fulham visit Villa Park tomorrow.
Davies is one of three new fathers in the Villa camp after Marlon Harewood and Isaiah Osbourne all broke out the cigars after the births of their baby daughters.
Their new arrivals have been settling into their new homes, causing a few sleepless nights, but Davies said the players were ready to face the Cottagers and help Villa into the top four of the Premier League.
“Three babies and all three girls,” Davies said. “I think they’ve said we must have had a sweepstake at the club or we must have had a crazy night out taking well-man pills or something like that! It’s just a coincidence but we’re all happy we’ve got our girls and they’re all healthy.
“To be fair the lads are so tired we don’t really talk, it’s just ‘how’s the little one? Yeah, she’s fine’.
“My daughter is not too bad. She’s being good for her dad. Her mum had the brunt of it while I was gone on England duty.
“She’s sleeping quite regularly. She is as good as gold. I’ve been managing to get a good seven hours sleep in and I’m all right. You know when you have a baby they’re going to make a bit of noise and stir up a little bit of trouble.”
Davies has been in superb form after forcing his way back into the Villa line-up and is fully focused on cementing his place in Martin O’Neill’s back four, and admits he is champing at the bit to shackle the attacking threat of Andrew Johnson.
“I get anxious because I want to play against these players and get out there and show what I’m about,” Davies added.
“That’s what I keep thinking, If I show what I’m about it doesn’t matter who I’m playing against. If my game comes together hopefully I can make someone else’s fade away.”
Team mate James Milner is expecting Fulham to attempt to shut up shop at Villa Park and make life difficult for the hosts.
But the Villa winger isn’t knocking the Londoners. Their tactics are a symptom of Villa’s growing reputation and Milner has experience of visiting teams adopting negative tactics before when Leeds United were on the rise.
However, Milner said it was up to Villa to take the initiative and the game to the visitors in search of the victory.
“The top teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United will come to Villa Park and attack,” Milner said.
“They will play football against us and go looking for goals and the win – and that gives us the chance to hit them on the break.
“Other teams will come and see that we are in good form and put men behind the ball. Then it’s up to us to break them down.
“It was a similar position at Leeds United, when Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Keane and Alan Smith were there. They were pushing near the top of the league and had to learn how to break teams down.
“Teams would come to Elland Road and sit back and defend. They had never experienced that before and the onus was on them to win the games,” he said. “It is the same at Villa now. We need to learn how to do that and there’s no reason why we can’t.
“Fulham got a good point against Liverpool at Anfield and I’m sure that’s a strength – being solid away from home.
“I think they will come and sit back. They will come and try and clock up another clean sheet.
“It’s up to us. We have the quality and I think an early goal would help. That’s what we’ll be looking for.”