James Milner is definitely out of Villa's squad for their FA Cup fifth round replay at Manchester City tonight.

The on-loan Newcastle winger was forced to withdraw from their defeat at Blackburn last Saturday after failing to shake off a virus.

However, there was a suggestion that he would return for tonight's trip to Eastlands but that idea was quashed after his condition worsened overnight.

Milner hasn't made the short jaunt up the M6 and Luke Moore will start wide on the right after his impressive performance at Ewood Park.

Villa's boss David O'Leary has questioned whether the motives behind a midweek FA Cup quarter-final date is to aid England's World Cup campaign or just pure greed.

Before the season started, the Premier League agreed to end their term a week early if the FA would acquiesce to play their quarter-finals in midweek.

All of this was undertaken to grant England maximum preparation ahead of this summer's World Cup in Germany.

Not only did the FA agree but they also decided to milk every penny out of the cash cow known as television and screen them live over four consecutive evenings.

All of which nonsense means that Villa could conceivably be in the FA Cup semi-final for the first time in six years next Monday evening.

However, they have two hurdles to negotiate prior that objective being achieved: A testing fifth round replay trip to Manchester City tonight could be followed by a Monday night quarter-final at Villa Park against either Bolton or West Ham.

The permutations are endless and indicative of the current state of flux surrounding this grand old lady of trophies, which O'Leary fears is being tampered with too frequently.

"I think we are dabbling with it too much. It is three weeks since the last game [against Manchester City in the fifth round proper]. Now. in a matter of a week I could be in the semi-finals," said a bemused O'Leary.

"We've got to decide is this for Sven or is it for money?

"I didn't think I'd ever see a quarter-final on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. But I never thought we'd be playing a cup game at 6.30 on a Sunday night (in reference to Villa's 1-1 draw with Manchester City), but that's the way we are now.

"Is it going to change? I don't think it is ever going to change much.

"I hope the quarter-finals go back to the weekend in future.

"I thought all four games were going to be on Wednesday to give everyone the same distance between games.

"I'll be delighted to have the problem of tired legs next Monday though."

However, O'Leary knows they will have to produce an infinitely better performance against Manchester City than they did in the original tie if they are to progress.

Despite Micah Richards' equaliser for the visitors arriving deep in injury time, it would have been a travesty of justice if Milan Baros' goal had sent Villa into the final eight.

And after a 3-1 beating at the City of Manchester Stadium in October, O'Leary is aware the portents aren't healthy for a Villa victory.

"Since I've been at the club Man City is a team we haven't done well against and we have lost there twice in the league," he admitted.

"In the FA Cup game here, we were very fortunate to be going in at half-time level.

"We were stealing the game until they scored in the fourth minute of injury-time.

They stole it back off us. We were both fortunate to get a replay.

"The quarter-finals are mapped out and for us to get to the semi-final, we've got a hard job.

"However, if we keep playing like we are, we will win a lot more than we lose until the end of the season.

"The two strikers missed goals at Blackburn but I was pleased with their actual performance.

We carved Blackburn up, who have been in a rich vein of form. The strikers didn't score but they got into good positions and there was good link-up play.

"We've just got to take that into a very tough place at Manchester City and see if we can get a result."