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Petrov's a fighter: McLeish

ASTON Villa manager Alex McLeish last night revealed skipper Stiliyan Petrov was in "amazing spirits" on his first day of treatment after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

Villa owner Randy Lerner, chief executive Paul Faulkner and McLeish visited Petrov in the London hospital where he will be undergoing treatment after news of his condition was announced on Friday.

The Scot said: "Stan is determined to meet it head on. He's talking really positively and couldn't wait to get started to try to beat off this illness. The support he's had from Villa, the fantastic show of strength from Celtic yesterday, the support from Chelsea on Saturday, and the response from the football family has made him delighted and proud.

"Stan himself is in amazing spirits. God knows what the lad is thinking in his head, but he is the captain of Aston Villa.

"He's shown the commitment on the pitch as a pure leader, and he wants to lead himself through this."

The wave of goodwill for Petrov was notable during Villa's 4-2 Premier League home defeat to Chelsea on Saturday when players from both clubs wore T-shirts showing their support during the warm-up.

The 32-year-old addressed the Villa squad in the dressing room prior to the match. He then stayed on as a spectator with his family.

McLeish insisted it was too early to think about the long-term effects of Petrov's illness, and asked for his privacy to be respected.

"I think it's too early to think about long-term effects," the Villa boss said.

"This afternoon he's talking about coming to training tomorrow because he feels as if he could train. That's the kind of spirit he's in. Everybody is here to support him. We would request that Stan be left alone to his recovery."


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