Not only is Aston Villa's Martin Laursen finding the net with regularity but he seems to have put the knee injury which once threatened his career far behind him.

Defender Laursen scored Villa's winner in their 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on New Year's Day and helped push his side up to a lofty sixth position in the Barclays Premier League - just where they wanted to be in terms of pushing for European football this season.

The Denmark international is also now hopeful of sorting out his contract and his long-term future at Villa park once for all this month.

Laursen has now scored five goals this season - just two fewer than Villa's top scorer Gabriel Agbonlahor and has collected more man-of-the-match awards this season than any other Villa player. Now he hopes to play his part in finally helping Aston Villa defeat Manchester United at the weekend.

Saturday evening's clash will see the two sides square off in the third round of the FA Cup for the fourth time in the last seven seasons is almost an annual occurrence and Laursen believes it is about time Villa took the spoils.

The Dane says his side will not be afraid to try and exploit United through set pieces - a Villa speciality.

Martin O'Neill's men are the most threatening side in the Premiership from corners and free-kicks. So far they have scored 18 of their 37 goals this season from set play.

Laursen said: "Set-pieces are something we will look at but we also need to defend properly as well because Manchester United are very good at scoring goals from similar situations.

"It was great to finally get a home win in the match with Spurs and I hoped after the first half that we could keep a clean sheet.

"That has been a problem in the recent games that teams have scored too many goals against us. I would have preferred a clean sheet but that is also something we can work on."

Laursen said he was thrilled with his form this season which fans are unanimous in agreeing has been the best of his career since he joined Villa four years ago from AC Milan.

The centre-back said: "I am really delighted to have played all these games. I wanted to show everyone I could play throughout the Christmas period, that my knee is fine and that all my injuries in the past are in the past.

"So now I don't want to hear any more about my knee because my knee is fine. To have scored five goals as well, is more than I could have ever dreamt so I couldn't be more pleased."

Laursen's agent has opened negotiations with Villa manager Martin O'Neill over a potential new contract and the player is not unperturbed believing a deal will be done soon.

He said: "I think they have talked. I have just concentrated on playing football and I think the manager wants me to concentrate on that. When we have got the Manchester United game out of the way, then we will meet up again. I have just told my agent to take care of everything. I trust him while I just want to concentrate on my football.

"No one really knows what might happen in football but I am happy here at Aston Villa."