Date: 7th April 2008 at 12:55pm
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Martin O’Neill has on the official site thanked the Villa faithful for the response given to Stiliyan Petrov at the end of the Bolton match.

Myself I’m not sure all of it was for Petrov, some of it might have been to do with the 4-0 win, but it’s what most have always said. If he performs he is an asset, like O’Neill points out though, that consistency has been sadly lacking since he joined, and it’s up to him to keep to that level now.

Against Bolton Petrov did the holding job allowing Barry, and NRC to get forward more than usual and we saw the effect that had on Barry.

‘He got a great reception because he played very well. I was pleased for him because the last time he played at Villa Park, I took him off in the game at half-time against Newcastle.

‘His confidence was at a low ebb. He had to come back here and battle through that. He knew that. I’m aware of what he is capable of doing but it is something the Villa fans have seen all too seldom. It is up to him. He is capable of producing that.

‘Interestingly, he never really played the holding midfield role in a three for me at Celtic. In fact, he was the one going forward but on Saturday to get a grip of the game, I felt he was capable of doing it.

‘I thought last week at Old Trafford there were signs when he didn’t do too badly in the game but this was a big, big day for him, one I think he was up for which was obvious from his performance.

‘On Saturday he was so positive, got a couple of challenges in as well. All of those things give you a big boost.

‘I know from my own experience if you can get a couple of challenges in early on and get a feel of the ball, it really helps. Two or three times he has manoeuvred it brilliantly and by half-time his confidence was way up.’

One thing is for sure a Petrov on that form will make a big difference to us, who else is still seeing that ball through midfield – blimey we’ve missed a player capable of doing that!