Villa sign up Shorey and close on Young to fill full-back spots

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The Independent Online

Aston Villa yesterday appeared to have solved their pressing full-back problems by signing Reading's Nicky Shorey, to play on the left, and agreeing a fee for Middlesbrough's Luke Young, for the right.

Both players underwent medicals in the west Midlands yesterday. Shorey had been expected to leave Reading since their relegation from the Premier League last season with a number of clubs reportedly interested in his services. The Londoner, who has two England caps, will fill the gap left by Wilfred Bouma, who dislocated his ankle last month in the Intertoto Cup tie against Odense at Villa Park.

Young, 29, who has also played for England, winning seven caps, has spent just a season at the Riverside Stadium following his move from Charlton but now looks set to start the season with Villa. He cost Boro a cut-price £2.5m after the Addicks' relegation last year but manager Gareth Southgate is likely to have negotiated a profit on a player who impressed in an inexperienced back four last year.

If Young can agree terms he will finally provide Villa with a first-choice right-back after the departure of last year's incumbent Olof Mellberg, more at home at centre-half, who has joined Juventus.

Martin O'Neill, the Villa manager, has made no secret of his desire to bolster the Villa squad and add strength in depth. "Strengthening the squad has obviously been in our minds for quite some considerable time," O'Neill said. "We have agreed a fee with Reading for Nicky Shorey – a quality natural left-back who played for England 18 months ago."

O'Neill added: "The right-back position caused us a few problems for us last season in terms of us not having a natural right-back. Now we've also agreed a fee with Middlesbrough for Luke Young. So hopefully there won't be any major problems and those two deals can go through.

"Obviously the injury to Freddie [Bouma] has left a gaping hole on the left. Freddie had a wonderful season for us last year and this wasn't necessarily a priority for us before the injury.

"But Nicky Shorey is more than a back-up. He's a quality player on the ball and is up for the challenge."

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