Aston Villa's memorable comeback at Southampton has been overshadowed by an injury crisis which threatens to ruin their hopes of qualifying for the Uefa Cup.

David O'Leary's side came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at St Mary's in the Premiership but they lost Martin Laursen and Darius Vassell to injury.

O'Leary, who fears both men will miss Villa's remaining five matches, says Gavin McCann will also not play again this season after another operation to his knee.

Villa are already without captain Olof Mellberg, who has a knee injury, and defender Liam Ridgewell, who is suspended for two more matches.

Villa's resources were so stretched at Southampton that Mark Delaney and Jlloyd Samuel, two fullbacks, played in the middle of defence for the second half.

With Charlton visiting Villa Park on Wednesday night and Bolton Wanderers due on Saturday, O'Leary fears his team's injuries could hamper their hopes of a top-seven finish.

"We are still in the mix with an outside chance of Europe," O'Leary said after his side climbed to ninth in the table. "But it is going to be hard in the next couple of games because of our lack of numbers - particularly the way Bolton play.

"You need to be big and physically strong against them - especially at the back - but we are not going to have that.

"The injuries are a problem and it is going to hurt us in the next few games because we lack height now. We have lost another couple of players and that's why we have lads filling in.

"With the squad we have got we can't afford that - I just hope we don't pick up any more injuries."

Vassell had looked back to his best recently after four months out with a broken ankle. The 24-yearold England international is due for a scan on his ankle today after a heavy challenge from Nigel Quashie left him writhing in agony and he had to be substituted in the 36th minute.

Laursen went off at the break after his knee problem flared up again, while McCann's operation on Saturday was described as routine. O'Leary said: "Gav will be out for the rest of the season and that sums our season up. The operation was to clear up a niggle and he'll be fine long-term."

Nolberto Solano and Carlton Cole sparkled as substitutes.

Solano, a strong contender to be named Villa's player of the year, changed the game and left many supporters bemused why their top scorer had not started.

O'Leary wanted to rest the Peruvian before two home matches in quick succession, however.

Solano, who netted his ninth goal of the campaign at Saints, was happy to go along with O'Leary's plans. He said: "The manager told me I needed a little rest but prepare to come on. I am happy to do that and pleased that it helped us win.

"Hopefully I am not substitute next time, I like to start the games but I respect the manager's decision and sometimes the team comes first."