High-tempo U's set to upset Villa

COLCHESTER United's new high-tempo style of play should be in evidence against visiting Aston Villa in tonight's glamorous pre-season friendly (kick-off 7.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's new high-tempo style of play should be in evidence against visiting Aston Villa in tonight's glamorous pre-season friendly (kick-off 7.45pm).

Left-back Marc Tierney, who has been impressed with his first pre-season with the U's, has high expectations for the new campaign. And he wants to get the ball rolling at the expense of Premier League opposition.

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“Any team managed by Martin O'Neill will be a difficult team to beat, regardless of whether they field their big hitters or their younger players. They all have a good pedigree,” admitted Tierney last night.

“We will be looking for the win, because we want to sort out our home form this season. We need to do that if we want to be up there challenging.

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“Although it's a pre-season game, we want to start off on a winning note, to get that habit of winning at home. There's no better feeling,” added Tierney.

The U's won just seven of their 24 league and cup games at their new Weston Homes Community Stadium last season. Their one pre-season fixture was a 2-2 draw against Athletic Bilbao.

But a year is a long time in football. There have been many changes over the last 12 months, and both manager Paul Lambert and defender Tierney are amongst those starting their first full season at the Essex club.

Lambert's men are fresh from a hard week of training in Germany, which culminated in a 3-0 win over local German side Troisberg FC. Tierney set up the first minute opener for Ashley Vincent.

“It's been up there with the hardest pre-seasons of my career, as well as the best structured. We've done a lot of hard work with our fitness, so that won't be letting us down this season,” confirmed Tierney.

“We have hit the ground running. We have the style of play that we want to follow, attacking teams with pace, and with the defenders and midfielders being quick to support the forwards. We will be attacking together, and defending together.

“The training has been top quality, and fitness won't be an issue. We've also worked on our shape.”

Tierney is also looking forward to teaming up with winger Simon Hackney down the left flank. Hackney was signed from Carlisle last January, two months after Tierney arrived from Shrewsbury.

“We want to get that Hackney-Tierney combination working well,” continued 23-year-old Tierney.

“We knew each other from our time together at Carlisle, and I think that we have a good understanding. We seem to click together.”

Villa boss Martin O'Neill and Lambert are good friends, stemming from their days together at Celtic when O'Neill was the manager and Lambert are a competitive midfielder.

Last season, Lambert recruited Villa striker Sam Williams on loan, and O'Neill might be prepared to agree to similar arrangements with some of his younger players during the course of this campaign.

Villa enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win at Peterborough United in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, thanks to goals from Austrian striker Andreas Weimann, defender Curtis Davies and attacking midfielder Steve Sidwell.

Many of their senior players should be in action again tonight, although their international stars have only just returned to training and so will not feature.

The likes of Emile Heskey, John Carew, Ashley Young, Brad Guzan and Stiliyan Petrov reported back for pre-season training yesterday.

Manager O'Neill confirmed: “We have a group of players coming back this week, senior internationals who were playing right up to June 10. They won't be ready for the game on Tuesday night.”

The Villa side that started against Peterborough was as follows: Friedel, Cuellar, Knight, Davies, Shorey, Bannan, Sidwell, Reo-Coker, Albrighton, Weimann, Harewood.

Tickets will be available from the club shop and the U's Central shop during today, but supporters can also turn up and pay on the night. Prices are �15 for adults, �10 concessions and �5 for children.

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