Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill hopes he does not have to off-load any of his fringe players during the January transfer window.

O'Neill is operating with the smallest squad in the Barclays Premier League and has stressed the need to strengthen before the window closes.

Reading striker Kevin Doyle and Arsenal full-back Justin Hoyte are two of the players believed to be on his radar. But O'Neill is also keen to retain the services of every member of his squad to help sustain a push for a European spot.

Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen has expressed a desire to leave Villa Park and is reported to be interesting Derby. Striker Marlon Harewood is also being linked with a move away.

O'Neill said: "We will be trying to bring people in. I can't tell you if we will be as successful as last January, but we will be trying - but so is everyone else. It won't be through lack of effort if we don't succeed.

"We want to do something to give us all a bit of a boost. But equally I would prefer not to lose any players already here if that is at all possible as well."

Six of O'Neill's squad have played every league match this season, and the Irishman admits Villa may have struggled to cope had they also been involved in Europe. He said: "It is still a concern that players who played during most of last summer for their countries and didn't have much time off may hit a wall. It is a matter of trying to rest players when you can.

"What we have done is try to give them as much time off as possible, where there has been a window available to do that. We are not competing in Europe this season, which is a slight advantage - although that is where we want to try and get to.

"At this minute we have been able to cope a bit better with a small squad, simply because we haven't been involved in European football."