Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill has expressed his desire to get Villa Park rocking for tomorrow’s derby day visit of West Bromwich Albion.
However, his players will be under orders to keep one familiar Villa fan quiet – Albion striker Luke Moore – during his Holte End homecoming.
O’Neill was impressed by the atmosphere generated by supporters during Villa’s previous home game, the pulsating Boxing Day draw with Arsenal.
The Ulsterman is calling for a similar effort from claret and blue followers for the Premier League visit of Tony Mowbray’s Albion team tomorrow.
“I am sure it will be a great atmosphere on Saturday,” said O’Neill.
“From here on in, if we can keep the momentum going, I can imagine Villa Park being really vibrant.
“I thought the support we received throughout against Arsenal was absolutely fantastic.
“Even at two-down the fans didn’t give up on us and kept us going. It certainly didn’t go unnoticed in the dressing room after the game, let me assure you. The fans have been tremendous. And it’s great to know they are firmly behind us.
“I think Villa Park will be rocking against West Brom. We want to keep that momentum going.”
The return of former players Moore – a boyhood Villa supporter – and goalkeeper Scott Carson, in the blue and white of Albion, is set to add to the atmosphere.
Villa’s ex-Albion defender Curtis Davies was the centre of attention in the reverse fixture and was jeered throughout his first return to The Hawthorns as his new team emerged with a 2-1 victory.
Davies is relieved there will be fewer insults flying his way tomorrow lunchtime and is glad that Moore is dominating discussions in the build-up to the match.
Moore has recently been given an opportunity at Albion following a season-ending injury to Ishmael Miller and the Birmingham-born striker responded with his first goal against Manchester City last month.
Davies, speaking from experience, knows that the striker will be particularly motivated to prove a point against Villa for allowing him to join their rivals for £3?million last year.
“There is an extra edge as a former player,” said Davies. “You can say the game is ‘just another match’ all you want in the build-up, but once you get out on to the pitch, it does mean more.
“Luke left under different circumstances to me. He left to guarantee first-team football and he is starting to get that now at West Brom.
“I want him to do well and hopefully he will push on now he has scored his first goal for the club. But I hope he is quiet on Saturday and he continues his improvement after the game.
“Returning to your former club definitely creates a case of ‘look what you’re missing’.
“I have already gone to West Brom and picked up three points. I have nothing to prove. It’s just about Villa winning the game on Saturday now.”
Meanwhile, Luke Young insists Villa’s top-four place is “no fluke”.
The defender is adamant the league table “doesn’t lie”, as O’Neill’s side sustain their challenge for a Champions League spot.
He said: “It is exciting times. In the squad, we are not getting too carried away because there is such a long, long way to go in the season still.
“But at the minute, the league table doesn’t lie. We are fourth, having a real good go – and we are winning games.
“I knew when I came here in the summer (from Middlesbrough) that I was going to be involved in a squad of players that had a chance of having a right good go in the league.
“But I didn’t expect us to be where we are at the minute. We have given ourselves a great platform, and the challenge is ‘can we carry it on for the rest of the season?’”