Reo-Coker out after bust-up

Posted Saturday, September 19, 2009 by PA

Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker will miss the visit of Portsmouth after being sent home from training following a bust-up with manager Martin O'Neill.

When Reo-Coker arrived for training on Friday morning he was told to stay away until Monday.

O'Neill said: "There was a confrontation between Nigel and myself. It usually happens between players really.

"There were no fisticuffs. There was no wrestling to the ground as reported in one newspaper. That was a figment of the onlookers' imagination.

"There was enough for me to treat the incident seriously enough. Nigel will not play against Portsmouth and come Monday it will be forgotten about.

"I make the rules. I am the manager and custodian of the football club so my rules apply. Players have to get used to my rules. It's as simple as that."

Striker John Carew is pushing for a recall to the Villa starting line-up after he came off the bench at Birmingham last weekend to set up Gabriel Agbonlahor's winning goal in the 1-0 victory.

O'Neill also has the option of recalling England striker Emile Heskey while new signings Richard Dunne, James Collins and Stephen Warnock, who all made their debuts at Birmingham, will make their home bows.

Portsmouth boss Paul Hart has no fresh injury worries.

Steve Finnan (hamstring) is back in training but is not yet ready for selection.

Herman Hreidarsson is no longer suffering pain in his foot but also remains sidelined. Papa Bouba Diop is still out with a hamstring problem and new striker Aruna Dindane is undergoing a two-week fitness programme in a bid to overcome a knee injury.

Defender Tal Ben Haim hopes his side can iron out their communication problems at the back ahead of the trip to Villa.

The Israeli returned from international duty last weekend and was thrown straight into the fray for Pompey's 3-2 loss to fellow strugglers Bolton at Fratton Park.

Ben Haim has had very little time to establish an understanding with French-speaking defensive colleagues Younes Kaboul, Nadir Belhadj and Anthony Vanden Borre, prompting him to suggest: "After I learn English, I probably need to take some French lessons."

But the former Manchester City and Chelsea player knows the Pompey rearguard, which has conceded 10 goals in their opening five games, has to get on the same wavelength quickly.

He added: "We need to play a few games as a team and have a few training sessions together.

"Then the communication will be better because you can't play without good communication.

"Hopefully we can then get the results we need because it would make everything much better.

"We need to work on it and communicate in the training sessions - that's what the manager has done this week.

"Now we think the players feel much better and hopefully we can bring all that hard work on to the pitch on Saturday."

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