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Ricky Sbragia has admitted that strikers Kenwyne Jones and Djibril Cisse's are still playing like strangers.
The pair may have amassed 17 goals between them this season for the Premier League strugglers but Sbragia has admitted it could take up to a year for his forwards to hit it off.

"There is a concern about the way they link up but the biggest concern would be if they weren't scoring goals but they are scoring goals are so long may it continue," Sbragia said yesterday.

"We spend time on the training field and it is not going to happen overnight. They are two individuals; it could take six months, a year. They practice together; they are kept together as a unit just to try to get an understanding. Some partnerships work from day one, some take much longer.

"In general, it's a case of â keep it going'. The big concern for me is I could do with the other lads pitching in with goals. I could just do with a couple of centre-backs, midfielders scoring goals. It's when it dries up from the front two that we would have a concern." Sbragia will hope that his big-hitters get their act together tomorrow when Aston Villa attempt to maintain their efforts to secure a Champions League spot at the Stadium of Light.

The former Manchester United coach, who succeeded Roy Keane last month, acknowledged his side will have to raise their game to thwart Martin O'Neill's side.

"They are a very difficult team and they have a good counter-attacking system," Sbragia added "It's no surprise where they are in the league. It will be very tough here.

They have a good management staff and their development system is working." "They've got a lot of pace in their team and they try to play a formation where you get sucked in and they hit you on the break. They've got pace on the break and that's their main threat to us." "We've had experience of it already this season - Villa are a very good team when they're coming at you.

"Down at Villa Park we went one up and did well but we lost concentration and they quickly punished us twice.

Sbragia continued: "They've got some good players, a good team and they're on a run as well and with all that pace, it's clear for anyone to see why they are where they are.

"Villa have a nice blend of good young players and experienced ones. I also think the keeper has helped as well - Brad Friedel with all his ability and experience.

"They've also ended to be barely unchanged since the start of the season and that tells you something too." ends