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Duo leap to defence of Knight after errors; VILLA NEWS.

VILLA'S first choice defensive duo Curtis Davies and Martin Laursen have tipped Zat Knight to bounce back from his European disappointment.

Knight received much of the criticism for Villa's early collapse in the embarrassing 2-1 UEFA Cup defeat to Group F also-rans MSK Zilina last week.

The former Fulham defender seemed to duck under the ball for the Slovaks' opening goal and lost his man for the second moments later.

Villa's costly defeat to Zilina means they must win in Hamburg on Wednesday to reap the benefits of finishing first or second in the group.

And the poor display from Knight and the claret and blue understudies could have affected their chances of earning a run-out in Germany.

But Davies, who has displaced Knight from Martin O'Neill's back-four this term, is confident the Brummie defender will come back stronger.

"Zat, not just size-wise, is a big character," said Davies, excusing Knight's role in the opening goal.

"It's one of those things in football, you see it happen loads of times.

"He did the right thing by thinking he can get it, but unfortunately it's just bounced over his head.

"It happens. It's happened to me loads of times before.

"I think it's just unfortunate that when you come in for one game here and there and that happens it is frustrating.

"But I'm sure Zat will come back in the next game and be much stronger than that."

Laursen echoed Davies' comments, adding: "Zat is an experienced player who has played for many years in the Premier League, so it's not a problem for him."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 13, 2008
Words:265
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