Petrov poised for new Villa deal

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The Independent Football

Stiliyan Petrov could sign a contract extension at Aston Villa within the next fortnight, according to manager Martin O'Neill.

Petrov signed for Villa in a £6.5m move from Scottish champions Celtic where he played under O'Neill for five years.

After a difficult first two years at the club, Petrov has now settled in as a first-team regular and has made 28 appearances at the heart of the Villa midfield this season.

O'Neill believes the 29-year-old has been key to the club's good form, which has seen them launch an unlikely Champions League qualification assault and is keen to extend Petrov's contract, which has 18 months left to run.

"We will be dealing with it the minute the transfer window is over," O'Neill told the Express and Star.

"He is playing great. I have the utmost regard for him because he has fought back from a really difficult situation.

"Sometimes you can never win people over but he has done that himself. I think he has been really big for us this season, consistently excellent, confidence is high now whereas confidence wasn't that high before," added the Villa chief.

Villa take on CSKA Moscow in the last 32 of the Uefa Cup and face a potentially tricky tie with Doncaster in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Wilfred Bouma and John Carew have both returned to full training yesterday but Martin Laursen is struggling to recover from a knee injury and O'Neill will also have to do without Ashley Young and Curtis Davies on Saturday through suspension.

This has led O'Neill to suggest he may have to start resting players in the cups if Villa are to continue their Champions League qualification push, unless he can make any signings this month.

"Maybe in a week or two, we might have to look at prioritising," O'Neill told www.avfc.co.uk.

"Had we been halfway up the Barclays Premier League in this particular season and safe from relegation, then, of course, the cup competitions would have become very important.

"But we are battling [in the league] at the moment.

"We will treat this FA Cup in the right manner - as a real proper cup tie - and try to get through.

"But there might be a point in prioritising. I don't know. A lot will depend on what happens in the transfer market in the next fortnight."

Villa have also expressed their sadness at the news that the club's FA Cup-winning legend Johnny Dixon has died.

Dixon skippered the 1957 Villa side that won the FA Cup and helped Villa win promotion to the First Division the following year.

A club statement read: "Villa are sad to learn of the death of former Villa captain Johnny Dixon.

"Dixon's association with Villa spanned over 20 years but his impact and legacy will never be forgotten."

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