Aston Villa's bright start to the season could be undermined by fatigue, coach Martin O'Neill has said.
The Birmingham outfit reported back for pre-season training at the start of July because of their involvement in the Intertoto Cup.
And O'Neill, aware that he must make do with one of the smaller squads in the Premier League, admits he may have to “prioritise” in terms of his targets and ease the schedule for some of his squad during the remainder of the season.
“We have been at it, playing competitively since July, because we were involved in the Intertoto Cup,” he said.
“At some stage or another, it will probably catch up and then we have to go and prioritise.
“I am delighted with the progress we have made in the UEFA Cup, which is what we set out to do, but at some stage around Christmas time I am going to have to sit down and think about this.
“We have eight more games to play before January. I am delighted with the progress but the boys have put a big effort in.
“Someone pointed out that we by Christmas we will have played nine or ten more games than by the same stage last season.
“Against Manchester United on Saturday, you saw Gareth Barry, having played in mid-week for England, trying to kick one clear on the edge of our penalty box in the 93rd minute of the game.
“It was a fantastic effort but that eventually takes its toll.”
O'Neill insists, though, his players are currently relishing the hectic schedule.
“If we have a chance of making progress, I'll see about things but at the moment players love to play,” he added.
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