Date: 2nd August 2008 at 8:26pm
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Martin O’Neill said after the pre-season friendly v Reading today that the 1-1 gave the team a ‘useful workout’.

Brad Friedel saved a penalty on his debut in an otherwise typical pre-season game, good atmosphere from the Villa fans and the 30 Reading fans who came also seemed to enjoy themselves!

O’Neill told the official site: ‘I was very pleased with the run-out. I knew it would be a tough game and so it proved. Reading are just a week away from their own season starting, so they were up for it. So I thought it was a terrific workout. Brad Friedel made his debut and though he didn’t need a penalty save to prove he’s a class goalkeeper, his overall performance was really very commanding and so assured. I think that given an injury free run he will do well for us. It was very good for us to see some of the younger players in action and a chance for some of the older players who didn’t get a game last weekend to play.’

‘The other big bonus was of course Curtis Davies coming through another hour. That’s his second game in three days and he’s done very well – surprising quite a few people with the speed of his return.’

VILLA: Friedel, Gardner, Stieber, Laursen, Davies, Salifou, Osbourne, Maloney, Routledge, Carew, Harewood. Subs: Barry, Young (for Osbourne 62), Agbonlahor (for Carew ht), Delfouneso (for Maloney 75), Knight (for Davies 62), Petrov, Reo-Coker (for Gardner ht), Albrighton (for Routledge 75), Taylor.

The bad news, on a day seemingly full of gloom as Barry it appears still wants out, is that new signging Steve Sidwell picked up a calf strain and could be a doubt for the start of the new season.

Martin O’Neill told www.avfc.co.uk: ‘He picked up a calf strain yesterday and he’s very disappointed. It might be a couple of weeks so he might actually struggle for the start of the season. So we’ll see. That’s a blow to us.’

Not so sure about the pie situation at Reading either, I ordered a pie and pint and got the most disgusting Cornish Pastie instead. Surely something needs to be done about such an outrage??!! :o)