O'Neill plans January raid on players to take Villa into Europe

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The Independent Online

The manager of Aston Villa, Martin O'Neill, will present his wish list of players to the new owner Randy Lerner next week but will only sign players on long-term contracts in January who have a good chance of restoring former glories to the Midlands club .

Lerner is flying in from America to watch Villa's games against Manchester City and Portsmouth but more importantly to discuss O'Neill's plans for the transfer window. The Irishman wants to strengthen his squad to push for a European spot in the second half of the campaign.

But O'Neill, whose side entertain Middlesbrough today, will be content with players on short-term or loan deals if the top-notch performers he wants to bring to the club are not available until the summer.

O'Neill said: "Randy Lerner is coming over here next week. I would intend to give him my plan of how we would look to be moving forward in the immediate future. Randy's plan would be to bring in players capable of taking us into European football.

"But, while I would want to try and strengthen the squad in January, and will be doing my best to do so, I will be in direct competition with quite a number of other Premiership managers.

"The players you think might be able to take the football club to the level you would want to get to might not be available in January."

O'Neill insisted: "I will not buy for the sake of it. If I did do, it would be short-term deals. I can't imagine myself going and signing someone on a long-term deal whom I didn't think was what we were looking for over the next three or four years. If it is only short-term people, just to keep us going, then fair enough. Loan signings is another obvious possibility. I will have everything in front of Mr Lerner, saying this is my plan: A, B, and C."

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