O'Leary concedes defeat in Beattie bid

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The Independent Football

David O'Leary, the Aston Villa manager, has resigned himself to failing in his attempt to sign the Southampton striker James Beattie before the transfer window closes on 31 August.

David O'Leary, the Aston Villa manager, has resigned himself to failing in his attempt to sign the Southampton striker James Beattie before the transfer window closes on 31 August.

The Irishman is anticipating having to deal with the demands of the Premiership with one of the smallest squads in the top flight. O'Leary tabled a £6m bid for Beattie - which was turned down by Southampton - in an effort to supplement his strike force of Juan Pablo Angel, Darius Vassell, Marcus Allback and Carlton Cole.

He is aware that Villa could be stretched in this department but is prepared to allow Allback to leave on a free transfer. O'Leary is also likely to lose the Colombian striker Angel at least four times to international committments before the transfer window re-opens. Cole is on loan from Chelsea and will be ineligible to play in the two matches against the London club, while Vassell has still to consistently show his best form.

"I have forgotten about the Beattie thing. There was an offer made, their chairman turned it down because they wanted more money," O'Leary said yesterday. "Unless the figure drops, I don't think we will get Beattie before the transfer window closes. The offer for him still remains. If they ring us up before the deadline, we would love to take him. I am reconciled at going through to January with just the three [strikers].

"I would say what we've got now in the squad is what we will have to go with and then normally when the window re-opens there is not much doing."

Nevertheless, O'Leary is prepared to allow Allback to move for nothing to further ease the club's wage bill. He has already reduced it significantly since his arrival at Villa Park last summer, with 15 players leaving on free transfers or for nominal fees.

O'Leary said: "I got £2m for Peter Crouch and was able to buy Martin Laursen from that money but the other 14 or 15 players have just been a case of getting them off the wage bill.

"We would like money for Marcus but we've been offered none all summer. If he did go, it's about going on a free transfer. Celta Vigo is the club interested in signing him."

O'Leary will hope Villa continue their unbeaten start to the season tonight at Charlton, but he knows his side cannot afford to lose concentration, like they did against Southampton, and West Brom on Sunday.

He said: "Whoever bosses the midfield normally controls the game and in both games we've lost control of the midfield in the second half. It's not something that should happen and you are just hoping we will improve in that department."

O'Leary is expected to keep faith with Sunday's squad with Angel again on the bench as he slowly continues his comeback from a knee problem. Lee Hendrie will again be missing with a shoulder injury.

Alan Curbishley could give Francis Jeffers his first start for Charlton. Striker Shaun Bartlett suffered ankle ligament damage after Saturday's win against Portsmouth. Captain Matt Holland misses out again with an ankle injury sustained on the opening day of the season. Radostin Kishishev suffered a groin strain on Saturday and also misses out.

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