Martin O’Neill has assured Aston Villa’s forgotten men that they could all still have a part to play during the club’s three-pronged challenge for glory.
O’Neill is expected to shuffle his pack for Sunday’s FA Cup fifth round tie against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park to give some of his fringe players a run out.
Brad Guzan, Habib Beye, Fabian Delph, Steve Sidwell and Nathan Delfouneso could all figure at Palace with O’Neill taking the opportunity to rest his regulars.
The Villa boss is trying to balance Villa’s cup commitments with their ongoing bid to crack the Premier League top four and qualify for Champions League football.
As well as Sunday’s last 16 FA Cup tie, the claret and blues are preparing for the Carling Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley on February 28.
A glut of injuries since the turn of the year and a lack of incoming activity in the January transfer window has increased the strain on Villa’s first team squad.
And O’Neill admits that, fitness permitting, the likes of Curtis Davies and Moustapha Salifou could also be called into action in future weeks if Villa continue to challenge on three fronts.
“I would say that would go for every single member of the squad,” he said.
“I wouldn’t just be singling any particular individual out. This is the squad that we have, this is it now.
“I know that Curtis Davies is back from that injury and played some part of the game against Brighton.
“I suppose really in terms of fitness, Moustapha would maybe be a wee bit short.”
Stiliyan Petrov, John Carew and Emile Heskey have been on the treatment table in recent weeks, while Stephen Warnock is still laid low with a shin problem and Nigel Reo-Coker is out for the rest of the season with a knee problem.
O’Neill has tended to stick with the same select group of players for most of the campaign, but the Villa manager accepts that injuries are inevitable and hopes his deputies will rise to the challenge in the coming weeks.
“Of course we couldn’t keep going on with the same side all the time – it just won’t happen. We’ll definitely pick up injuries along the way,” he said.
“But overall I’m hoping that everyone who steps in now will be up for the team because the stakes are so high.”