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Lerner turns his attentions away from Villa sale

ASTON VILLA owner Randy Lerner has promised not to let his intended sale of the club affect manager Paul Lambert's pre-season preparations.

Lerner announced in May that he was looking for a buyer for the club after eight years in control at Villa Park.

But with a sale not yet agreed and players starting to return to training, the American has issued a statement saying that his priority will now switch to footballing matters.

Lerner feels it is important that speculation over the future ownership of the club does not overshadow the build-up to the new campaign.

Lerner said: "I committed to our manager to become completely focused on the upcoming season should there be no agreement to sell by the time players and coaches return to training.

"Given that no agreement has, as of yet, been reached, I feel that it is time now to turn my full attention back to Villa matters at hand.

"While the sale process has been productive and remains ongoing, my priority at this point in the summer, heading into the upcoming season, is that the Villa organisation's sole focus be football - undistracted by any sales process.

"Reverting to common practice, I do not intend to comment further on a potential sale or related rumours unless and until I have reached a definitive agreement to sell, at which time I will be prompt and clear."

Villa became caught up in a battle to avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League last season and Lambert voiced his frustration at a lack of recent investment in the squad.

Since securing their top-flight status, Villa have signed former England international Joe Cole and Switzerland international Philippe Senderos, as well as appointing Roy Keane as assistant manager.