Barry Bannan returns to Aston Villa training following club suspension


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The Independent Football

Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan has returned to training following the club suspension which was imposed after he was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving.

Manager Alex McLeish confirmed in a statement today that Villa's internal investigation into the allegations against Bannan had been put on hold.

The club intend to wait for police to complete their probe into a motorway crash which involved Bannan and Shrewsbury striker James Collins, a former Villa player, in the early hours of Sunday, October 23.

Scotland international Bannan was arrested by police following the crash near junction 26 of the M1, which occurred at around 5.30am, and was subsequently bailed.

The 21-year-old was suspended by Villa two days after his arrest.

McLeish said: "Barry Bannan returned to training today.

"The club has suspended internal enquiries into allegations which arose a couple of weeks ago pending the outcome of police enquiries. We will not be commenting further."

Another midfielder back in full training is Jermaine Jenas, who is itching to put his "heartbreaking" start to his Villa career behind him.

The 28-year-old is hoping finally to make his debut in Saturday's Barclays Premier League game with Norwich after seeing the start of his season ruined by thigh and Achilles problems sustained in training.

The summer loan signing from Tottenham said on the club's official website, "My start here has been very frustrating. When I first arrived, I was flying in training. I was getting my head down and doing well.

"I was so excited about the prospect of starting at a new club and then I felt a little twinge in my quad on the Thursday before the Everton match.

"It was very, very frustrating. Then I had the Achilles injury too. I came back, fought back in the gym, worked hard and all of a sudden my Achilles was really, really sore. I just thought 'what more?'

"It was heartbreaking. It's been a real, real test of mental strength. Thankfully I have had good people around me - my wife, my family - they have supported me and kept me focused.

"Everyone at Villa has been fantastic too.

"The lads in the dressing room are brilliant. It feels like I've been here a few years. I know quite a few of them anyway but they have made me feel comfortable and easy.

"That's helped with the injury issues I have had. The medical staff have been superb and the gaffer has been supportive throughout the whole situation.

"He's been eager to get me involved. He'd ring me, speak to me and reassure me that I'm still in his plans so that's been a big drive for me to continue and work hard and get myself back fit.

"It's been a long time coming - me putting on that claret and blue shirt. Even before the move, I've been linked with Villa for many years.

"When the opportunity to come here on loan came up, I was really, really eager to do it. I can't wait to run out at Villa Park and hear the crowd chanting.

"First and foremost though, I want to play and help the team get a win in any game I play.

"If I can put in a good performance or even score a goal, that would be amazing."

Revealing manager Alex McLeish had almost picked him for Saturday's game at Sunderland but decided not to rush him, Jenas added: "If I'm involved in any way this weekend - starting or coming off the bench - I will be more than grateful to be out there playing football and contributing.

"It will take me a few games to hit my peak but the excitement and the adrenalin of playing will go through me and give me the extra energy needed."