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McLeish backing Petrov to overcome leukaemia

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish believes the fighting spirit of skipper Stiliyan 'Stan' Petrov will help him in his battle to overcome acute leukaemia.

The condition was diagnosed following tests after Bulgaria international Petrov developed a fever following last Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal.

Messages of support for the former Celtic player, who it is understood is due to begin treatment in London on Monday, have flooded in since the news was confirmed in a Villa statement yesterday afternoon.

McLeish said: "It's that old perspective cliche, but it's so true, and everybody here is behind Stan and a lot of the guys, everybody, will be shocked by the news. But he's a captain, he's a leader, he's a defiant guy and he's fought many battles on the pitch and I'm sure this is another one he'll win.

"We certainly think it's in the early stages and Stan will get the best medical attention possible. I spoke to him and he was typical Stan, defiant, but I think obviously he's concerned about how it's affected his loved ones."

McLeish was unsure whether Petrov would be able to attend today's home clash with Chelsea.