Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker has admitted that earning an England call-up under Fabio Capello "is my next goal".

And former England Under-21 captain Reo-Coker believes his conversion into a holding player protecting the back four under Martin O'Neill will help him achieve that aim.

Capello watched Reo-Coker in action along with a host of other potential England candidates during Villa's FA Cup clash with Manchester United at the weekend.

The former West Ham player was never a prolific goalscorer in the mould of Frank Lampard but now his onus is more than ever on defensive duties while Villa skipper Gareth Barry gets forward.

Reo-Coker said: "Getting into the England squad is my next goal. It's as simple as that. The fact that I am now a holding midfielder gives me more opportunity.  A lot of people have complimented me on my ability to get the ball back and hopefully I can push myself into the squad under Fabio Capello.

"If you look at the top four sides, they all have a holding midfielder. There are Makelele and Mikel at Chelsea, Hargreaves at Manchester United and Liverpool tend to play with two midfielders holding.

"I had quite a good chat with the manager and I'm learning a new discipline as the holding midfielder. The manager wants me to marshal the defence and it does work really well for the team and balances the team. It gives Gareth Barry the freedom to express himself a lot more.

"Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor have also been tremendous along with John Carew. They are the attacking spur of the team while I sit back and defend and do a job."

Reo-Coker added: "The role does take a lot of discipline and it's something I am working really hard at. I'm not finding it easy. It's a new role and I know it's something I can do.

"I'm so nervous now of bombing forward because I'll get a rollicking at half-time. I have to stay in front of the back four and not really move.

"But I have always said that I was a team player and, if this is how Martin sees me helping the team, then that's what I do.  I am happy to do that to the best of my ability and if we can stop conceding goals then we can win a lot of games in this league."

O'Neill is continuing his search to bring in new players during January to supplement his squad. Reading striker Kevin Doyle and Arsenal full-back Justin Hoyte are believed to be on his radar.

A peak of over nine million people saw Manchester United overcome Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Saturday evening.

The audience for United's 2-0 win at Villa Park represented a 37% share of the total television audience for the BBC.

Arsenal's 2-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor was watched by a peak audience of over five million, while almost seven million viewers saw Stoke's goalless draw with Newcastle yesterday evening.