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Press article:

O'Leary's worry at Solano's hamstring - 20/04/2004

O'Leary's worry at Solano's hamstring
Not worth the risk
   Craig Bellamy
   David O'Leary
   Aston Villa
   Newcastle United

Aston Villa boss David O'Leary revealed he brought former Newcastle United winger Nobby Solano off fearing his hamstring would go the same way as Craig Bellamy's.

Solano won his fitness battle to face his former club and ran out at Villa Park to a huge reception from both sets of fans.

The Peru captain had missed Villa's previous four games with a hamstring injury and when Bellamy pulled up with a tear O'Leary was reminded of the dangers of pushing Solano too far on his comeback and he brought him off with 70 minutes gone.

"We lost Gavin McCann just before the game, I didn't want to play Nolberto Solano," said O'Leary. "He's not really fit and I feared playing him would do his hamstring again.

"I know he wanted to play against his old club. When I saw Craig Bellamy I didn't want that to happen to him."

O'Leary admitted his team made heavy weather of breaking down 10-man Newcastle, who understandably ran the clock down at every opportunity with Shay Given shown a yellow card in the 90th minute for unsporting behaviour.

He said: "It was a frustrating game, we were at our best when they had 11 players on the pitch. Their agenda changed when they had a player sent off. They ran the clock down. The game died after the sending off.

"Then their agenda was `we're here for a draw, you come and break us down'. That's not having a go at Newcastle, good luck to them. I thought they were more disciplined and far better away from home with 10 men than they have been with 11 this season.

"We didn't break their 10 men down. It takes a special, special guile or quality to break a team down like Newcastle."

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