MacDonald seeking talks with Lerner
Aston Villa caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald is hoping to speak to owner Randy Lerner over the next few days to find out whether there is any cash to spend in the transfer market.
MacDonald will continue to hold the reins for the next few days at least, taking in tonight's Europa League play-off with Rapid Vienna and Sunday's Barclays Premier League trip to Newcastle.
Victories in those to follow on from Saturday's impressive season-opening 3-0 triumph at home to West Ham could persuade Lerner that the 49-year-old Scot is the man for the job.
MacDonald, however, has yet to decide on whether he wants it, but he knows the clock is ticking towards the closure of the transfer window.
If the squad is to be strengthened it needs doing so fast, but the key is whether Lerner is willing to make money available.
The departure of James Milner yesterday to Manchester City - with Stephen Ireland moving in the opposite direction - will have freed some funds.
Whether MacDonald gets the opportunity to invest is another matter as he said: "At the moment I've not spoken to Mr Lerner or Paul (Faulkner, chief executive) about who is controlling the transfers.
"The only ongoing transfer when I took over related to Stephen and James, so probably after tomorrow's game I might be able to speak to them.
"If not we've Sunday's game to look forward to as well, so we've so much going on for me to try and get my head round.
"But after Sunday we've only 10 days to see what there is and if there are going to be any dealings in the market."
MacDonald's immediate priority is to steer Villa into the group stages of the Europa League, a feat O'Neill was unable to achieve last season after losing out on away goals to Rapid.
MacDonald, who knows all about the younger players from working with them in the reserves, is ready to give them a chance.
With Richard Dunne suspended, John Carew, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Carlos Cuellar and James Collins injured, and with Ashley Young, Stiliyan Petrov and Luke Young rested, several fringe players are in a 20-man squad.
"It's a very big game for us," added MacDonald.
"Villa have obviously had outstanding evenings in Europe, some when I've been here, some previously. We've a big reputation in Europe.
"But it's also very important to stay in the competition for squad players, the youngsters to play matches, and we'll be doing our utmost to stay in.
"I did say last week that whilst I was in charge, be it two games or 20, that everyone would be given an opportunity.
"Obviously the players on Saturday were outstanding, but now some of the players on the fringes are being given a chance.
"I'm talking about some of the youngsters who have done so well for this club over the years because it's not just about some of the so-called senior players."
Ireland will have to wait until Sunday's visit to St James' Park to make his bow, and after spending so long on City's fringes, he is eager to make an impact at Villa Park.
"I want to get back to playing the way I can - I haven't played 90 minutes in nearly eight or nine months, which isn't normal really for me," said Ireland.
"I've kind of forgotten the feeling of what it is like to come off after a game feeling tired, winning or losing. I'm not used to sitting out for so long.
"So for me, I want to get back to playing at the top of my game."
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