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Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Top four is the priority - Petrov

Stiliyan Petrov
Petrov thinks Villa's small squad can cope with competing on two fronts

Aston Villa's Bulgarian international Stiliyan Petrov insists the Premier League must take priority over the Uefa Cup over the final weeks of the season.

Villa are third in the league - only five points off top spot and seven points clear of fifth place.

"When we started the season we said we were trying to break into the top four," Petrov, 29, told BBC WM.

"So far we are in the position that we can still do it - that is the main thing," the midfielder added.

"It was disappointing that we're out of the Cup, but we're still in two very big competitions.

"It's a big three months ahead of us, because if we don't get what we want all this hard work won't achieve what we wanted."

Everybody's talking about us not having a big squad, but we've got players who are prepared to go through hard times

Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov

The former Celtic midfielder has been producing his most consistent form since linking up again with manager Martin O'Neill in the summer of 2006.

He has made 33 appearances this season, scoring a crucial goal in the Uefa Cup win against Litex Lovech in Bulgaria, and he refutes the suggestion that the Villa squad is too small.

"Everybody's talking about us not having a big squad, but we've got players who are prepared to go through these hard times," Petrov noted.

"We have a busy schedule and we have a few players injured, but we have some coming back now who will freshen us up a little bit."

John Carew has made a timely return to fitness, especially given the knock suffered by Emile Heskey on international duty last week.

O'Neill may also have Wilfred Bouma available soon as he completes his recovery from the horrific ankle injury he suffered during the Uefa Cup tie at home to Odense back in July.

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see also
O'Neill undaunted by injuries
17 Feb 09 |  Football
O'Neill focusing on clean sheet
17 Feb 09 |  Football
Everton 3-1 Aston Villa
15 Feb 09 |  FA Cup

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