David O'Leary and Stuart Pearce are convinced they have m ade a sound investment for the future with their strikers and believe their stock is rising.

Their valuable assets cut contrasting figures on Tuesday evening as Darius Vassell scored the winning goal for Manchester City while Milan Baros limped off dejectedly with an ankle injury.

Vassell left Villa Park in the summer after it was a bundantly clear he needed a new environment to revitalise his fading star.

He has found the air in Manchester to his liking and nine goals from 32 starts is a decent return for £2 million.

Baros struggled to find his feet at first with internationals and a spate of injuries but a return of ten goals from 24 starting appearances is a return that near-neighbours Birmingham would love to possess.

A fee of £6.5 million ensures that Baros did not arrive at Villa Park cheaply but O'Leary is convinced there is more to come from his striker as he familiarises himself further with his surroundings.

While both players are different in style they share one common attribute - raw pace.

Pearce says that was the main attraction behind luring Vassell up the M6 last summer.

He said: "The main criteria we were looking for is pace up front. We had no pace up front last year.

"I played as a defender all my life and pace is the one commodity that used to scare the life out of me, to be honest.

"If you harness that pace with power like Vassell has got and look at his workrate, effort and the number of tackles he puts in, then it ends up bearing fruit.

"He got a goal he thor-oughly deserved on Tuesday and he is a genuine honest lad who is at the right age and the right price for this club.

"Time will tell on him but I am sure he will be a good commodity for years to come for this club."

O'Leary also believes his main asset is increasing in market value and is convinced a good World Cup will only increase his status still further.

"I am delighted with the boy," O'Leary said. "I am sure Baros will come back from the World Cup an even more valuable player. He has already scored ten goals in 24 starts.

"For a lad living in a hotel, just about settling into the area, that is a good return for us.

"People don't always realise how long it takes to adjust to everything and there is still more to come from him."

Villa have yet to report regarding the tests undertaken by James Milner after suggestions he might have glandular fever.