Vlaar: I'm not afraid of Van Persie & I'd never swap shirts at half-time

The defender knows the challenge that faces him when Aston Villa play Manchester United in Saturday's late kick-off, but he is not in awe of the former Arsenal striker

Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar insists he will not be intimidated by Robin van Persie when Manchester United come to town on Saturday and is adamant he would never consider swapping shirts at half-time.

When asked if he will be swapping shirts at half time, Vlaar told The Guardian: “Never, never. I don't think of that before I go into a game.

“It's not about changing your shirt with another player. I want the points, that's the most important thing.

“We all know who we're playing against. But I'm not afraid of anyone.”

Vlaar suffered a string of serious injuries during his seven years at Feyenoord, effectively missing two years of his career due to knee problems, but he is remaining positive after maintaining his fitness since then.

“The first time it happened was on September 16, 2007 and that season was gone,” he said. “And the second time was September 17, 2008, so one year and one day later.

“Again the same knee and again the season was gone. But I'm a fighter, so I always think of the positive side.

“I was worried. Not the first time because it happens often with players and you see they come back. But the second time I was only thinking: 'OK, become fit and then you'll see.'

“The recovery went very well and at the start of the [following season] I came back to the club. And after two years of injury, I played 32 of the 34 games, so that was really amazing.

“I really believe in mind-setting because you can already play the games a little bit in your mind before you play, recognising situations that you have to deal with, and that worked great for me last season.”

A former United player tops the list of those Vlaar looks up to, with former Netherlands international Jaap Stam epitomising everything he admires in a defender.

“Jaap Stam was really amazing. He was an example,” he continued. “He was strong. And the way he stands on the field, his stature, I think he frightens [opponents].

“He was a real winner. Everything for the win, a leader."

While still in his homeland, Vlaar was part of the Feyenoord team that struggled in the early stages of last season, only to finish runners-up in the Eredivisie.

And although he is not expecting such a performance from Villa this season, he believes they are good enough to at least build a side full of belief.

"I know, especially from last year, what we did with Feyenoord. I believe that we can do that again [at Villa]," he remarked.

"I'm not saying that we can come second. But we can build and make a team that can believe."